Young tennis ace Heather Croll to play Wimbledon

Heather Croll, left, meets Henman at SW19. Picture: contributed

Heather Croll, left, meets Henman at SW19. Picture: contributed

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A TEENAGE tennis champion from the Capital has taken to the hallowed turf of Wimbledon after qualifying for a major tournament at the All England Club.

Heather Croll enjoyed rallies with former British number one Tim Henman as a reward for making it to the SW19-hosted National 14 and Under Challenge Finals thanks to her previous victory in the East of Scotland tournament.

The 14-year-old Mary Erskine pupil won one of her three group matches before being knocked out in the semi-finals of the girls’ consolation draw.

She said: “It was a really good experience and you realise you might not get to do it again so it’s about making the most of it.”

Heather’s appearance at Wimbledon came after 20,000 children from all over Britain competed throughout the summer to follow in the footsteps of new men’s champion Andy Murray, with the top 128 boys and girls earning the chance to compete at the National Finals.

Based at Barnton Park Lawn Tennis Club, Heather had already experienced glory in the tournament by winning the consolation draw last year at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

But she admitted there was nothing better than arriving as a player at the All England Club this time round.

“You feel so important and special being there,” she said. “I want to keep playing at the sort of level I’m at and keep improving so I can compete against the kind of girls that were in this tournament.”

Heather was joined at Wimbledon by fellow Edinburgh player Cameron Bowie, 13, who made it through to the second round of the boys’ main draw.

He said: “It was my first time coming to Wimbledon and it was great to have the chance to play on the same courts as the top professionals do.”

Henman, now National 14 and Under Challenge ambassador, hailed the performance of all the youngsters competing.

He said: “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.

“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 and Under Challenge is the UK’s largest national junior grass court tournament.