“Andrew, you’ve got a letter.”
That was the first thing my mum said to me one evening when I came home from school. I rushed to open it (I don’t get many letters) and found it to be an invitation from the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative to take part in an exhibition on the Middle Saturday of The Championships on Court 19, a change from the usual Court 14. So with my mum and dad in tow I approached Gate 1 on the Saturday in all white and with my tennis rackets.
I’d always liked Court 19 so to play on it was amazing. It was made even better by having Tim Henman and the winners of last year’s HSBC Road to Wimbledon, a prestigious 14 and under tennis competition, joining in with me and four other WJTI players. Unfortunately, we were only able to play for about ten minutes before it started chucking it down with rain. It’s going to be one of those days, I thought. And for much of the time it was.
I spent the rest of the morning and much of the afternoon sheltering from the rain, amusing myself in the ‘Kids Zone’, watching the scoreboard for Centre Court which had the roof closed and indulging on the delicious Wimbledon food (I love the chilli cheese nachos). Then all of a sudden in the middle of the afternoon the rain stopped, the courts were prepared and the matches began. “Finally” was the general feeling around as everyone rushed to grab seats.
My mum and I got a place on Court 4 to watch the junior match of Josh Sapwell from Great Britain against Orlando Luz of Brazil. They warmed up and started. Sapwell won his serve easily and pushed Luz to deuce in the second game. At advantage to Luz the rain came down again. It wasn’t until much later that we, along with my dad, were able to watch Kei Nishikori of Japan versus the Italian Simone Bolelli on Court 8. A great match with both players pushing it to the limit; it was suspended at 3-3 in the fifth set due to darkness. What a day!
I started at WJTI at the age of five when they came to my school in Tooting and picked me to train at Wimbledon. I was only meant to be staying at that school temporarily and actually left not long after. I am quite sporty, but I soon found tennis to be the best sport of all. At the age of seven I told my parents I wanted to be a professional tennis player. I don’t think they believed me at first, but after much repetition they decided to support me.
At the age of eleven I started playing at a tennis academy full time while still playing at WJTI, and improving my game I got to a high of No 9 in the UK tennis rankings for my age group. After nine years of playing I am still hungry for more (tennis, not nachos even though I’m always hungry for more nachos). I am now looking forward to taking my tennis even further. All thanks to WJTI introducing me to and improving my tennis.