Birt hails “special” All England Club experience

PUBLISHED: 08:59 19 August 2014 | UPDATED: 08:59 19 August 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11:  Tim Henman with Katie Birt during the HSBC Road to Wimbledon on August 11, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images for HSBC)

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: Tim Henman with Katie Birt during the HSBC Road to Wimbledon on August 11, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images for HSBC)

2014 Getty Images

Harpenden’s Katie Birt insists she will never forget her outing at the All England Club after starring in front of former British No.1 Tim Henman as part of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge Finals.

The 14-year-old St George’s School pupil booked herself a spot at SW19 after competing in her County Finals and won three group matches before being knocked out in the quarter-finals of the main draw.

Some 20,000 promising young tennis players from all over Britain competed in pursuit of a prestigious place at Wimbledon with Birt among the top 144 boys and girls to have earned the right to play at the National Finals.

And, despite failing to follow in 2013 Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray’s footsteps by lifting silverware at SW19, Birt admitted her outing at the All England Club was certainly the highlight of her summer.

“It was amazing to play on the grass at Wimbledon because the surface is so different to what I’ve played on before and it felt very special,” Birt said.

“The serve is very important because if you get it in the right place it is almost impossible to return and I like to play a lot of slices even through I’m not the most aggressive player.”

Birt was joined on the famous grass courts of Wimbledon by St Albans’ James Wilkinson who suffered defeat in the quarter-finals of the boys consolation draw.

The pair also got to meet former British No.1 and HSBC Tournament Ambassador Henman and Beaumont School pupil Wilkinson was made up with his experience.

“I played at Wimbledon last year so it was great to return for a second time, especially because not many people get to do that and this is such an inspirational place,” he said.

“I beat a higher seed to qualify but I feel like I’ve really improved and I’ve been winning a lot more tournaments.”

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 - www.hsbcroadtowimbledon.com


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