Mumby tennis star Jessica Jackson experienced the thrill of a lifetime 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 John Spendluffe Technology College pupil, who qualified for Wimbledon after she won the Lincolnshire County Finals, had success in the group stages with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Caitlin Owens.
But after failing to progress from her group, she exited the competition following a 6-4, 6-0 defeat to Oxfordshire’s Asha Badiani on August 17.
However, the Baymond Park Tennis Club player insisted that despite the defeat, arriving at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this year was without doubt the highlight of her summer.
“It’s amazing to be here because last year it was at Roehampton and it can’t compare to actually being at Wimbledon, it’s the whole atmosphere that makes it special,” said Jackson, who also made the second round of the doubles competition with partner Dana Kenneally-Forester.
“It was really cool meeting Tim and it’s quite strange being around him knowing what he’s achieved in the game.”
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.
Jackson 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