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Road to Wimbledon aims to 'inspire a generation'

Players get ready for play
by Michael Burke
Monday 13 August 2012

After an incredible Olympic tennis event staged at the home of The Championships, our attention now turns to the largest junior lawn tennis event in Great Britain, the HSBC Road to Wimbledon national finals.

The legacy of the Games is the promise to ‘Inspire a generation.’ With the efforts of clubs, schools and County organisers, the national finals have been made that little bit special as always with the support of Olympic silver medallist Tim Henman, the HSBC Road to Wimbledon ambassador. And with the presence of tournament director Paul Hutchins, fresh from leading the British Olympic tennis team to two medals, the junior event will be looking to embrace the Olympic feel-good factor sweeping the nation.

When the competitors arrived on Sunday at Roehampton they will no doubt have been talking about where they were when Andy Murray and Laura Robson delivered gold and silver for the home nation, and there will be added incentive for the HSBC Road to Wimbledon national finalists to prove they can also be be faster, higher, stronger while experiencing grass court tennis Wimbledon-style.

Being at Roehampton this year is a one-off move for the tournament, breaking the tradition of being contested on the Aorangi Practice Courts. A small price to pay for being able to enjoying all London 2012 has had to offer Great Britain's tennis fans.

On Monday morning it will be business as usual for the 64 boys and 64 girls who will be attempting to become our 12th HSBC Road to Wimbledon champions on Saturday.

The Bank of England Sports Centre is a wonderful venue and is the traditional home of the qualifying events for The Championships, and there can be no doubt that the Roehampton grass courts have helped to provide some of the greatest Wimbledon tales of Championships gone by.

The longest match in Wimbledon history in 2011 featured a qualifier, Nicolas Mahut of France, who arrived triumphant from Roehampton to reach the main draw where he challenged John Isner of the USA, and on Court 18, made Grand Slam history in an epic 11 hours and five minutes trilogy that began on Tuesday afternoon and concluded late on Thursday with Isner emerging victorious in their first round match 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 70-68.

Another former SW19 champion also has a Roehampton tale to tell, John McEnroe began his illustrious Wimbledon career as a fearless teen at the Bank of England Sports Centre in 1977, coming through the qualifying rounds to arrive at his first main draw and stun the world by serving and volleying his way to the Wimbledon semi-finals.

The 12th HSBC Road to Wimbledon national finals promises to be a special occasion providing the next generation of players the opportunity to live their Wimbledon dream.

All the latest results, news and photos can be viewed daily at www.hsbcroadtowimbledon.com

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