Ben Stride continues to fly high in the tennis world and has just returned from playing in the Wimbledon under-18 qualifiers.
The 18-year-old from Felpham played Italy’s Andrea Pellegrino – ranked 76 in the world – but lost a tight match 7-5, 6-4.
It’s important to realise just how high in the world rankings you have to get to be eligible to play in the qualifiers. Wimbledon is one of the highest-standard junior tournaments in the world, the others being all the Grand Slam events.
Many of the top 200 players play tennis full-time, where as Stride – who plays at Angmering-on-Sea TC, where he has been given honorary membership – has just taken three A-levels. So to lose by so little is a tremendous achievement for him.
He was a break up to go 3-1 and 30-0 up in the second set but Pellegrino fought back to break back and win the set.
Stride had two ambitions this year – to play at junior Wimbledon and to go to America on a Tennis scholarship. He has achieved both, as in August he will be going to Drake University in Iowa on a tennis and academic scholarship to take a degree in environmental science.
Drake play tennis in NCAA division one, the highest standard of American Collegiate tennis, and Stride will be playing all over the USA representing Drake.
McEnroe, Fleming, John Isner and Kevin Anderson are all products of the American collegiate system. The average age of the professional tennis player on the ATP tour is now 28 so Stride will have a chance to improve his tennis over four years, then decide whether to go pro.
He has combined his A level studies with his tennis extremely well, playing in South Africa, Norway and Spain this year. His highest ranking has been 239 in the world.
He recently knocked with Isner at Boodles Golf & Country Club as a warm-up to playing at Wimbledon and Isner wished him good luck at Drake.
Stride continues to be sponsored by JW Sports of High Street, Bognor, and is coached by Ahmed El Menshawy.