Peterborough’s Pippa Bourne insists she will never forget her outing at the All-England Club after starring in front of former British number one Tim Henman as part of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge Finals.
The 14-year-old Oundle School pupil booked herself a spot at SW19 by triumphing in the County Finals and after qualifying from her group, she made it to the second round at the iconic venue last week before losing to sixth seed and eventual finalist Alicia Dudeney 6-2, 6-3.
Some 20,000 promising young tennis players from all over Britain competed in pursuit of a prestigious place at Wimbledon with Bourne among the top 144 boys and girls to have earned the right to play at the National Finals.
And, despite failing to follow in 2013 Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray’s footsteps by lifting silverware at SW19, Bourne admitted her outing at the All England Club was certainly the highlight of her summer.
“I played alright overall but it was quite hard adjusting to the courts although I definitely enjoyed it,” she explained.
“I’ve never played on grass before but it was so exciting to be at Wimbledon. You get on there and it’s slightly surreal but very fun.
“I wanted to enjoy the week, have a good time and meet some new people and if I won a couple of game as well that would be nice.
“I played at Stamford and then went to Lincoln to qualify for the event and this is the first year I’ve made it to Wimbledon. It’s been an exciting week.”
Bourne, who trains at Stamford Tennis Club, even got the chance to meet former British No.1 and HSBC Tournament Ambassador Henman while playing at Wimbledon.
Henman spent time with the players, signed autographs, and posed for photos with the finalists and insisted he was impressed with the standard on show this year at SW19.
“There’s 20,000 kids every year with the Road to Wimbledon and it’s great to see how the standard has improved over the years,” said Henman, a four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist.
“There’s some really good young players. It’s a great week here but it’s then a lot longer than that with the process of playing in their local areas and regionally and coming through.
“It’s a great carrot for the youngsters to realise they’ve got this opportunity of coming to play at Wimbledon.”
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.