Alex Ward is already looking ahead to next year after his proud debut on Court 3 at Wimbledon on Monday ended with defeat by Belgian Davis Cup star David Goffin.
The 26-year-old former Northampton School for Boys pupil went down 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 against 11th seed Goffin, currently ranked the 13th best player in the world in the men’s game.
A wild card entry into the event, Ward also had a first round doubles match to relish on Wednesday with his partner Brydan Klein against 15th seeds Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers, when no doubt he will have the chance to sign more autographs.
Ward’s Wimbledon debut, a goal for which he has been striving since turning professional eight years ago, earned him £30,000... more than double his prize fund for the season so far.
He followed 14th women’s seed Sam Stosur and then 13th men’s seed David Ferrer onto Court 3 and held his opening service game.
Yet Ward was never able to break the Goffin serve and never looked like pulling off a repeat of the tight contest they had fought out on their only previous meeting four years earlier on a hard court, when the Northampton player was beaten 7-6 in the third set.
However, his mere presence on this stage was a massive achievement considering he is more likely to be found in third tier Futures events.
He said: “I am used to playing in front of 20 or 30 people at most so that took a while to get used to.
“But it is definitely one of my goals to break into the top 200 in the world for next year and come back here again.”
There was no shortage of support for Ward who gave frequent glances and half grins to the stand where his posse of friends and family included his mother, step mother and father, the Northamptonshire player Richard Ward who is still turning out for the county Over 35s (although he could comfortably qualify for a category 20 years older), and Ward’sister Judith, another one time Northants county week performer.
It was also fitting the occasion should be witnessed by two young players of his own generation, his best friend Tom Foster and another one time John Henry League/Barritt Young Player Of The Year Alex Fisher, whose working life for BBC 5-Live will take her to Rio de Janeiro and the Olympic Games this summer.
Ward is also a massive Cobblers fan and there was a supportive ‘Tweet’ from the club before his entry onto the big stage.
VILLAGE life is playing an increasingly significant role in the make-up of the John Henry Northampton League, but despite signs of a healthy growth at Brixworth there are no immediate plans for a more competitive base line.
Collingtree, Roade and Nether Heyford, then add to the list Crick & West Haddon, Earls Barton and Harpole... the league list is a growing one and ensures important variety in this county and beyond when you stop to consider encompass Priors Marston and the two Rugby clubs.
Brixworth, which is still in just its fourth year on the Dallas Burston site, does not as yet possess floodlights but its club does offer a relaxed and friendly environment which is steadily strengthening roots.
It staged a first junior tournament on Sunday, attracting 28 entries for an event which was well timed on the day before Wimbledon’s launch, also being blessed by fine weather and alongside a weekend beer festival in conjunction with the cricket club.
Coach Richard Turner, who organises regular junior sessions on a Saturday and Thursday at the club, teamed up with committee members Sandra Moxon and Jonathan Martin to ensure smooth running.
Moxon explained: “We have held a senior tournament here today but this was our first junior event with U8, U12 and U16 sections.”
Brixworth Tennis Club is also staging a junior summer camp from August 15-19 and more details can be found by visiting its web-site at www.brixworthtennisclub.org
THE clash of County A and Dallington A men in Division One at Church Way on Friday evening is the next intriguing fixture in unravelling the title plot.
County’s match in hand gives the chance to overhaul Dallington who will be keen to stretch their advantage after an 8-0 win at Kettering A last Friday night when the pairs of Andy Guy/Steve Guy and Steve Morris/Dan Pawlusek teamed up against Wayne Tideswell/Chris Todd and Adam Brown/Graeme Milligan.
On the same night, County A ladies will be hoping to wrest top spot from Abington A by inflicting a loss on Duston United A.
Was it the alternative lure of Wimbledon highlights or watching England play Iceland that prevented Dallington C men fulfil fixture at Corby Tennis Centre C on Monday evening?
Either way, Corby posted an 8-0 win on the league web-site although no doubt they remain ring rusty as this would have been their first action for six weeks!
It does however, thrust them back into the title mix...
There were no such diary double ups for Northampton B ladies on Monday as their 8-0 win over Duston United B took them to the top of Division Two. The winning quartet were Wendy Bailey/Jane Simon and Lyn Hayward/Gill Duffield.