Sheffield tennis player Christian Mills insists he will never forget his outing at the All England Club after starring in front of former British No.1 Tim Henman as part of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 and Under Challenge Finals.
The 14-year-old Birkdale School pupil booked himself a spot at SW19 after competing in his regional finals and won two group matches before being knocked out in the quarter-finals of the boys main draw.
Some 20,000 promising young tennis players from all over Britain competed in pursuit of a prestigious place at Wimbledon with Mills among the top 144 boys and girls to reach the national finals.
And Mills admitted his outing at the All England Lawn Tennis Club was certainly the highlight of his summer.
“It’s amazing, one of the best feelings in the world to play where all my heroes have been – it’s something to be treasured,” Mills said.
“Eventually I want to go out to an American university and win a scholarship there, making sure I get a good education out of it – like Jamie Baker – and keep working hard on my tennis.”
Mills, who attends Graves and Hallamshire Tennis Clubs, got to meet former British No.1 and HSBC Tournament Ambassador Henman during his time at Wimbledon. Henman spent time with the players, signed autographs, and posed for photos with the finalists and says he was impressed with the standard on show.
“I’ve been involved for the 12 years of the programme, and it’s fantastic to see how the standard has improved,” said Henman, who reached four semi-finals at Wimbledon before retiring in 2007.
“There are kids that are going to want to play tournaments and compete at a higher level and this is a great stepping stone, to have this experience and learn from the match-play and competition.”
* 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 - www.hsbcroadtowimbledon.com