Corby’s Joe Tyler achieved a lifetime dream when he smashed a forehand winner past a former Wimbledon semi-finalist on the manicured lawns of the All England Club.
The 15-year-old aspiring tennis player has been inspired by the performances of Andy Murray and Laura Robson – and is now planning a return visit to SW19 to make headlines of his own.
The Brooke Weston Academy pupil was crowned runner-up in the boys’ main draw at last year’s HSBC Road to Wimbledon tournament.
And the prize was a chance to enjoy a coaching clinic with four-time semi-finalist Tim Henman during Wimbledon and Tyler enjoyed every second of his appearance on Court 19.
“It was once in a lifetime to be out on court with Tim Henman, he’s the former British No.1, a fantastic player and it’s just an honour and privilege to play with him,” said Tyler.
“Wimbledon is so important to British players, I know I’m not involved in the actual Championships but being here and playing on one of the outside courts make it feel like I am.
“My goal is to be a professional player, to play on the biggest stage of them all and that’s on Centre Court at Wimbledon, I know it’s not going to happen overnight and I will need to take it step by step but experiences likes this make me feel it’s achievable.
“My favourite player is Rafael Nadal, he gives 100 per cent, is gracious in defeat but is a real battler – he’s the person I’d like to most be like.
“After last year’s experience on the HSBC Road to Wimbledon, I decided to go and play in some international tournaments. In particular, I went to Turkey and it taught me a lot. It helped me build my European ranking as well.
“One of my main goals in my career is to go and play the Junior Tournament at Wimbledon.”
Henman took time out from his commentary and All England Club duties to put some of the next generation of British players through their paces as part of the grass roots tournament, which starts with 20,000 players nationwide and this year will conclude with finals on Wimbledon’s outside courts.
And he believes the performances of Murray and Robson – and the prospect of playing at Wimbledon is motivating for any young British player and he likes the shape of the future prospects.
“HSBC Road to Wimbledon is a great scheme and for someone like Joe to get the chance to have a Wimbledon experience is only going to benefit him if he comes back here as a player in juniors or seniors,” he said.
“It’s just a massive opportunity for a British player and we are lucky to have Wimbledon as our home tournament and it’s an asset not a burden.
“It’s a great carrot. It should inspire you competing here. It inspired me as a six-year old watching Bjorn Borg and when I read that we had the best tournament in the world but no players to compete in it, it made me more determined.”
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.