Batchwood Tennis ace aiming for Wimbledon win

James Wilkinson

James Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

St Albans tennis sensation James Wilkinson will aim to succeed where Andy Murray failed this year after booking his spot at a prestigious Wimbledon tournament.

The 14-year-old has long been known as one to watch for the future and was at it again on Sunday as he claimed victory at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon East Regional Qualifier at Gosling Sports Park.

Wilkinson, a member of Batchwood Tennis Centre, will now play in the HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge at the All England Club between August 11 and 16.

Murray lost in the quarter-finals at SW19 earlier this month and Beaumont School pupil Wilkinson admits he can’t wait to grace the hallowed Wimbledon turf.

“I was at Wimbledon last year and that was amazing, we got to see all across the grounds and got to play on the outside courts,” said Wilkinson, who beat Vincent Chen 6-1 in the first set of the final before Chen was forced to retire through injury.

“It feels incredible to be going back again because as a tennis player that’s the dream really and to be able to say I’ve done it twice at fourteen is crazy.

“I’ve been playing for a long time now and I want to make it as a professional and be one of the best in the country.

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“I was injured for a while but I feel like now I’m progressing at the right speed to be able to achieve that.

“Last time I was knocked out in the group stages but I had one of the harder ones and I was one of the youngest there so now that I’m one of the oldest hopefully I will do better.”

The HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & under Challenge began in 2002 and is an All England Club junior event initiative supported by the LTA – it has now even expanded into Asia with a pilot scheme run in India with events in Delhi and Mumbai.

It is the largest junior tournament in the UK, involving some 850 clubs, parks and schools with youngsters bidding to reach the national final at the All England Club.

And Wilkinson was joined by Letchworth’s Danielle Latter who pushed Lauren Armstrong all the way in the final before eventually being beaten 6-2 0-6 6-3.

“I was very happy with how I played. I wasn’t nervous at all so I thought I would just put everything into it,” said Knights Templar School pupil Latter.

“After I lost the first set I just thought I would attack so I did and I got that one 6-0.

“This is my first time at this tournament and it feels pretty good to be here competing against the top girls in the region.

“It’s great to have come so far and hopefully one day I can go a bit further and make it to Wimbledon.”

The HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge is the UK’s largest national junior grass court tournament and forms part of HSBC’s investment in the stars of the future.