And gets to meet Tim Henman
RUGBY tennis star Elizabeth Massie experienced the thrill of a lifetime last week as she joined former British No.1 Tim Henman at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 and Under Challenge Finals.
The 13-year-old Bilton School pupil, who qualified for Wimbledon as one of 20 runners-up having finished second in the Warwickshire County Finals, made it all the way to the quarter-finals of the girls’ doubles with partner Kate Malazonia.
But the pair met their match in eventual finalists Josephine Hogh and Megan Davies, exiting the tournament after a 6-2, 6-3 defeat.
But the University of Warwick Tennis Academy player insisted that despite the loss, arriving as a player at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this year was without doubt the highlight of her summer.
“It’s quite a privilege and I feel very lucky to be here as not everybody gets the chance to play at a place like Wimbledon,” said Massie, who also made the knockout stages of the girls’ singles event.
“The courts are quite nice and very different, I have never played on proper grass before so I had to get used to it.”
More than 20,000 children from all over Britain competed throughout the summer in pursuit of following in the footsteps of Andy Murray by playing at Wimbledon, with the top 128 boys and girls earning the chance to compete at the National Finals.
Massie even got the chance to meet former British number one Tim Henman – an ambassador for HSBC, sponsor of the Road to Wimbledon – as he spent time with the players, signed autographs, and posed for photos with the finalists.
“The excitement of coming through the gates is still the same for me. It has the best tennis tournament in the world and it is a huge motivating factor for all the kids,” said Henman, a four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist.
“You see them out here on the grass where the greats of the game played and it is inspiring and that is where Wimbledon plays a huge part in generating the sport’s interest.”
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.