Hattie has SW19 dream after savouring unforgettable Wimbledon experience

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Northampton's Hattie Kendrick may not have lifted silverware this week on the manicured lawns of Wimbledon – but she still enjoyed an unforgettable experience at SW19.

The 14-year-old, who goes to Northampton High School and lives in Northampton, featured in the national finals at the Play Your Way to Wimbledon event, powered by Vodafone – the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK.

Thousands of 14 and under and 18 and under players took part in the qualifying stages this year, leading to county and regional finals in June and July, with the winners progressing to the national finals on Wimbledon’s Aorangi Courts last week.

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Kendrick, who described Rafael Nadal as a tennis idol, failed to progress to the latter stages of the tournament – but was still thrilled to be in attendance at Wimbledon and revealed it was an experience she will never forget.

Hattie KendrickHattie Kendrick
Hattie Kendrick

She said: "It's quite surreal to be here actually. It's cool that the tennis stars have done this whole thing as well so I would love to be on Centre Court one day.

"I'm trying to be realistic so I'll try and make nationals first but it's every tennis player's dream to be at Wimbledon so it's been good.

"The atmosphere here's really nice, too. I knew some people here but everyone's really friendly and chatty.

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"The museum tour was good as well as we saw Centre Court and learned about the history of Wimbledon and how charity devoted it is which I liked.

"I love watching Djokovic play, because he can just stay calm the whole time no matter what the opponent's doing and I like Nadal for the same reason as he stays calm and collected."

The competition looks to inspire the next generation of tennis talent; allowing junior players to follow in the footsteps of their heroes and compete for a chance to play on Wimbledon’s iconic courts.

Formerly known as the Road to Wimbledon, the competition launched in March and is delivered in partnership by the LTA, The All England Lawn Tennis Club, and Vodafone.

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This year’s tournament will deliver more than 10,000 playing opportunities across singles and doubles competitions in 800 venues.

From 2023, the LTA and The All England Lawn Tennis Club are planning for the competition to expand further, through the introduction of additional age groups and disability categories, which Vodafone is proud to support, whilst helping to encourage more kids to pick up a tennis racket.

Former British No.1 Tim Henman was in attendance to cheer on the youngsters at SW19 and offer his experience and advice.

Henman said: "My involvement goes way back to when this first started in 2002 and really using Wimbledon as the character to inspire the next generation.

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"Now the partnership with Vodafone means Play Your Way to Wimbledon really speaks about encouraging that next generation and giving them that access and opportunity.

"It's a game that you can play for life so it's about encouraging more and more people to play tennis at a young age.

"The standard seems like it gets better and better every year and you think about the competition starting in local areas, thousands of kids participating and then the best ones coming through to Wimbledon.

"It's a great environment to see the enthusiasm and energy of all the kids and I think it's been a fantastic week and this is a great way to round it up."

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Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, is a junior tournament that gives players an opportunity to follow in their heroes’ footsteps and compete on the grass courts at Wimbledon. The All England Club and LTA are proud to partner with Vodafone to relaunch and expand the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK – for more information visit wimbledon.com

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