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Why Qualifying is such a hard-earned feat

Groundstaff relax during the final day of play at qualifying
by Dan Imhoff at Qualifying
Thursday 20 June 2013

Wimbledon.com sums up a busy four days at the qualifying events for The Championships, full of thrills, spills and tantrums. 

The points and prize packet matter little.

But the sight of Caroline Garcia falling to her knees to kiss the turf and James Duckworth breaking into a victory dance show just how much winning through qualifying means to a fringe player.

They are now guaranteed £23,500 should they bow out in the first round at Wimbledon next week, but more importantly, the chance to play on the grandest stage in tennis.

Despite a near constant threat from hanging grey clouds throughout the four days, only the briefest of rain delays on the final day interrupted 96 women being whittled down to 12 and 128 men to 16 on the Bank of England Sport Centre's lawns.

Shadows even made a rare appearance on the final two days.

British tennis alumni Judy Murray, Tim Henman and former Wimbledon champion Ann Jones showed their support for the local hopefuls, among the crowds lining the hill, with former French Open champion Anastasia Myskina keeping track of Russia's next flock of talent.

In the women's draw, five former top-20 players started the week - Greece's Eleni Daniilidou, Thai Tamarine Tanasugarn, Israeli Shahar Peer and French pair Virginie Razzano and Aravane Rezai.

Only 30-year-old Razzano, on the comeback from a hip injury, made it back to her more familiar surrounds of a Grand Slam main draw.

The world's fastest server - Australian Sam Groth (that bomb was 263km/h) and the tour's shortest player, Belgian Olivier Rochus - who has appeared in 12 of the past 13Wimbledons - started the week.

Injury cut Rochus's campaign agonisingly short, a set away from victory, while Groth made up for a singles flunk by qualifying in the doubles.

Former junior Grand Slam champions An-Sophie Mestach, Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Crawford were joined by fellow teenagers Garcia, Alison Van Uytvanck and Daria Gavrilova as they attempted to take the next step in their transition to the professional ranks.

Only French 19-year-old Garcia survived.

For the umpires, it is a taste of things to come in the next fortnight. Barring the rain holding off, their biggest relief this week was no doubt seeing Julia Cohen and Julie Coin (also pronounced "Co-en") avoided each other in the draw.

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