INDIA’S FINEST YOUNG PLAYERS BATTLE IT AT WIMBLEDON WITH NEXT GENERATION OF UK TENNIS STARS
Today marked the start of the thirteenth HSBC Road to Wimbledon National Finals which saw 148 junior players competing on the famous lawns of the All England Club. This year also marks the first time in the tournament’s history where players from outside the UK had the opportunity to qualify, with four talented stars from India entering the main draw.
Earlier this year, former Great Britain No.1 Tim Henman and Dan Bloxham, Head Coach at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, joined the players in India to spearhead the new initiative aiming to boost the development of junior tennis in the country. Adil Kalyanpur from Bangalore and runner-up Siddhant Banthia from Pune battled it out in the boys final whilst Shivani S Ingle from Pune defeated Aarja Chakraborty from Noida in the girls draw and all four players have travelled over for this week’s competition.
The move comes after the Wimbledon Foundation, the community, charitable and development arm of the All England Club, and HSBC teamed up with the All India Tennis Association (AITA) to bring The Road to Wimbledon to India. The competition was designed to give Indian players aged 14 and under the opportunity to improve their game and win the opportunity to come to London to compete at Wimbledon alongside the best junior players in the UK.
Tim Henman joined the junior players at the All England Club today and, having kick-started his career in India in 1994, he was particularly supportive of extending the tournament to include winners from India.
Tim Henman said: “The HSBC Road To Wimbledon 14 and Under National Challenge is the UK’s largest national junior grass court tournament and continues to get better and better each year. Thousands of young players take part and it’s fantastic to see the high level of talent on show on these famous courts. As an ambassador to the initiative, it is even more encouraging to see the programme expanding and this year we have some special young talent come over from India. It will be a wonderful experience for them and should be another step in the nurturing of talent both here in the UK and abroad.”
Paul Hutchins, Tournament Director, added: “Extending The Road to Wimbledon to India was a major landmark for the All England Club. We have been involved in junior development since 2002 with the start of the Road to Wimbledon and the Club’s Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative local coaching programme so broadening to India and maybe across Asia is an obvious extension. It’s great to see the four Indian players over here for the first time.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon is one of the largest junior competitions in British Tennis and it gives aspiring young players the opportunity to progress through to the world famous grass courts in SW19. The event, which juniors from over 750 clubs and schools, is in three stages and encourages boys and girls of all standards to play and enjoy competitive tennis.