ADDINGHAM starlet Oliver Burton insists he is hungrier than ever to see his name in lights after falling just short of booking his spot at a prestigious Wimbledon tournament.
The 14-year-old has long been known as one to watch for the future and was in action at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon North Regional Qualifier at Ilkley Lawn Tennis Club.
Burton was playing for a spot at next month’s HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge at the All England Club but couldn’t find a way past eventual winner Joseph Newman-Billington in the semi-final, losing 6-2, 6-0.
But despite falling short of the famous SW19 this time, Ilkley Grammar School pupil Burton is adamant we haven’t seen the last of him.
“For all the players it is really fun and it is a great atmosphere – I’m just happy I could even come here,” said Burton, a member at host venue Ilkley.
“I’ve not really played too much on grass. This is my club but we normally just play on the hard courts or inside. It keeps quite low sometimes, but that’s what happens.
“I feel a bit disappointed. I think I probably could have done a bit better, but I tried my hardest. He was a really good opponent and it was a great match.
“I will hopefully be coming back next year and I fancy my chances. I reckon I can do a lot better.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & under Challenge began in 2002 and is an All England Club junior event initiative supported by the LTA – it has now even expanded into Asia with a pilot scheme run in India with events in Delhi and Mumbai.
It is the largest junior tournament in the UK, involving some 850 clubs, parks and schools, with youngsters bidding to reach the national final at the All England Club.
And although Burton failed to advance, former Davis Cup captain and tournament director Paul Hutchins believes he is still one to watch out for in the future.
“Players are always disappointed when they miss out on qualifying for the HSBC Road to Wimbledon and a chance to play on the grass at Wimbledon,” said Hutchins.
“Hopefully Oliver will be inspired to enter the event next year if age eligible or be spurred on to greater achievements in his junior career and who knows maybe play at Junior Wimbledon during the Championships or even as a pro player in the main draw.”
* 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.