The Road to Wimbledon, a grass roots tournament run by the Wimbledon Foundation, is taking place in India over the course of the next two weeks. Here is the first blog from Tournament Director Paul Hutchins...
You may have heard that the Wimbledon Foundation is taking the Road to Wimbledon, the largest junior tournament in the UK, to India over the course of the next two weeks, with a tournament in Delhi from the 6-11 January and in Mumbai from the 13-18 January. The top 16 boys and girls from these two events will then be invited to a Junior Masters tournament in Delhi from 7-12 April. The top two boys and girls will then be invited to the UK National Finals at Wimbledon from 11-16 August 2014. What a prize!
All preparations are ready and planned and All England Club Head Coach Dan Bloxham and I have arrived in Delhi, to be joined later in the week by Tim Henman, who will be assisting Dan with a series of coaching clinics at both the tournaments and local schools in Delhi and Mumbai.
Tim, as an HSBC tennis ambassador, is well used to conducting these community clinics with Dan, who is a real expert in devising positive ways of making tennis enjoyable and exciting for youngsters who may not have played before, and those who are more used to playing tennis.
It should be an great experience for us all and the plan is to keep as many people as possible up to date with daily news about our trip.
I first went to India for the Commonwealth Games in 2010 as Captain of the English team. I returned in 2011 taking James Marsalek (a former Road to Wimbledon winner) to a number of Indian Futures tournaments.
I have been back several times in recent years on behalf of both Wimbledon and HSBC to see how we could help to promote Indian junior tennis in a similar fashion to our own Road to Wimbledon here in the UK, while also raising awareness of both Wimbledon, the Wimbledon Foundation, and HSBC in India.
After several very productive meetings with the All Indian Tennis Association, both in India and during Wimbledon last year, this has resulted in this venture, the first time a Wimbledon event has been taken outside of the UK.
Having HSBC on board as the Official Bank of the Championships raises the profile of all the activities as they are so well-known in India and across Asia, not to mention Tim's contribution too.
India I find is a fascinating place, and we will very much enjoy meeting the players and parents at both the tournaments and clinics. Everywhere you go it is interesting and there are some incredible sights to see as you travel around Delhi watching how this vast country operates on a day-to-day basis with so many different people, cultures, religions and customs.
I am really looking forward to the trip and will try and bring you as much info as possible on the Road to Wimbledon tennis activities that are now going into Asia!