REDDITCH’S Felix Gill insists he will never forget his 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 and Under Challenge Finals.
The 12-year-old Studley High School pupil booked himself a spot at SW19 after competing in his County Finals and won two group matches before being knocked out in the second round of the Boys County Main Draw.
Some 20,000 promising young tennis players from all over Britain competed in pursuit of a prestigious place at Wimbledon with Gill 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, Gill admitted his outing at the All England Lawn Tennis Club was certainly the highlight of his summer.
“It felt quite weird to be playing at Wimbledon because it’s where all the professionals have played,” Gill said.
“But I really enjoyed the experience and liked how open it was. I’d never played in front of so many people so that was quite nerve-wracking.
“I’d love to become a professional tennis player and this has been really inspiring for me. Getting to Wimbledon was my dream so hopefully I can push on from here.
“This is definitely one of the standout moments in my tennis career so far, if not the best one. I also played in Spain with Warwick University but this probably has the edge.”
Gill, who attends Redditch HDA Tennis and the Warwick University Tennis Centre, even got the chance to meet former British No.1 and HSBC Tournament Ambassador Henman during his time at Wimbledon.
Henman spent time with the players, signed autographs, and posed for photos with the finalists and insisted he was impressed with the standard on show this year at SW19.
“I’ve been involved for the 12 years of the programme, and it’s fantastic to see how the standard has improved,” said Henman, who achieved four semi-final finishes at Wimbledon before retiring in 2007.
“There are kids that are going to want to play tournaments and compete at a higher level and this is a great stepping stone, to have this experience and learn from the match-play and competition.
“You talk about the mental side of things, and it’s that application, going out there and giving 100 per cent is all you can do – those types of values will get you a long way in life.”
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