Four of Hong Kong’s brightest tennis talents have earned their place in the UK HSBC National Finals to be held at Wimbledon later this year. Tim Gauntlett, Coleman Wong, Sheena Karrasch and Kelly Leung booked their spots after defeating 28 other juniors in The Road to Wimbledon Hong Kong finals at Victoria Park tennis courts last week.
The Road to Wimbledon, organised by the All England Lawn Tennis Club, offers a chance for under-14 players from Britain, India and China to compete at Wimbledon’s iconic grass courts this August. The programme, introduced to Hong Kong for the first time, has brought prestige and drama to the local tennis scene.
Kelly, a student from Diocesan Girls’ School, is excited about taking part in the biggest junior tournament on grass. “It’s so exciting because I’ll be able to visit Wimbledon and make lots of friends,” said the 14-year-old.
Coleman, 13, from Diocesan Boys’ School, was also delighted. “I look forward to playing different players from different countries,” he said, adding that his dream was always to play at Wimbledon. Coleman said he is determined to put on a good show in London. He said he hoped to use his powerful forehand as his main weapon during the tournament, which will feature 144 junior players.
Former British number one Tim Henman and Chinese grand slam doubles champion Yan Zi showed their support for the Hong Kong hopefuls.
Henman, a long-time ambassador of the programme, wants young people to enjoy tennis. “It’s not necessarily about trying to produce a Wimbledon champion – it’s about getting more and more youngsters playing the game and having fun,” he said.
To prepare for the National Finals, Henman, along with Yan and All England Lawn Tennis Club’s head coach Dan Bloxham, conducted a series of coaching clinics and exhibition matches for the young Hongkongers. “There’s something magical about Wimbledon. My job is to bring that magic to some of these young people,” said Bloxham. “I think they’re on the right track and it’s very exciting.”
Coleman said they enjoyed the experience. “It was so much fun. We worked on core [fitness] and tactics. Tim Henman is one of my idols so I wanted to learn a lot from him,” he said.
Henman offered some words of wisdom for aspiring tennis players: “It’s about mentality on the court; having the attitude to always give 100 per cent, but to also have fun – get that combination right.”