Belper tennis starlet Luke Ince 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 13-year-old is considered a promising talent and looked to prove so at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon Midlands Regional Qualifier at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.
Ince was playing for a spot at next month’s HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge at the All England Club, but lost to Ellis Corbett, going down 6-2 6-3.
But, despite falling short of a memorable outing at the famous SW19 courts this time, Belper School pupil Ince is adamant we haven’t seen the last of him.
“I aimed to get three games out of him and I did better than I thought I would,” said Ince.
“I played quite well but there were some technical things that I could have improved on.
“I know now what I need to do to improve and beat these kinds of players, which is a positive thing for me.
“I’m very pleased with my effort – I didn’t expect to get much out of Ellis but to get five games out of him was good.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 And Under Challenge began in 2002 and 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 Ince failed to advance to Wimbledon, former Davis Cup captain and tournament director Paul Hutchins believes he is still very much 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 Luke will be inspired to enter the event next year if age eligible or be spurred on to greater achievements in his junior career.
“Who knows he may play at Junior Wimbledon during the Championships or even compete as a pro player in the main draw one day.”
n 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.