CHICHESTER tennis starlet Matthew Spencer 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 was bidding to prove how much as he took part in the HSBC Road to Wimbledon South East Regional Qualifier at West Worthing Tennis and Squash Club.
Spencer 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 Jack Pinnington Jones in the first round, losing 7-5 7-5.
But despite falling short of a memorable outing on the famous SW19 courts this time, Bishop Luffa School pupil Spencer is adamant we haven’t seen the last of him.
“It was quite a close match. I thought I played well but Jack just had a better standard than me and brought it to a better level than me in the second set,” said Spencer, who first picked up a tennis racket aged four and has trained at Bruguera Tennis Academy in Barcelona.
“I performed well and there are plenty of positives I can take moving forwards. I thought I played quite well for the second grass tournament I’d ever played in so I’m quite happy.
“I think I adjusted quite quickly because the first tournament I won so it seems to be quite a natural surface to me. I hadn’t played a big tournament since December because I’d been out with a shoulder injury.
“Coming into this tournament I wasn’t in the best form but I still think I played well given how much I’ve been playing recently. I only got back playing about a month ago so it’s just nice to be back on the courts.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge began in 2002 and is the largest junior tournament in the UK, involving some 850 clubs, parks and schools with Spencer among those bidding to reach the national final.
And although Spencer failed to advance to the All England Club, 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 Matthew 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 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.