BROMSGROVE tennis ace Jim Round has spoken of his ‘surreal’ experience playing at Wimbledon in front of former British number one Tim Henman.
The 12-year-old booked himself a spot at the All England Club after completing the County Finals of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge.
But after making it all the way to the boys’ main draw, he lost 6-3, 6-1 in the opening round.
Some 20,000 promising young tennis players from all over Britain took part in the competition, with Round among the top 144 boys and girls to have earned the right to play at the National Finals.
And the Parkside Middle School pupil, who trains at Bromsgrove Tennis Club, said his outing at SW19 was certainly the highlight of his summer.
“This is my first time I’ve ever been to Wimbledon. It’s really surreal,” he said.
“It’s a lot bigger than it looks on TV. The grass courts are really nice to play on, and it doesn’t hurt if you fall over.
“I just wanted to give a good account of myself and do well. As long as I played well, I didn’t really mind.
“It would be nice to be a professional one day. My favourite player is Roger Federer because he has a one handed back hand and so do I.”
Round even got the chance to meet HSBC Tournament Ambassador Henman who spent time signing autographs and posing for photos with the finalists.
The four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist said: “There’s 20,000 kids every year with the Road to Wimbledon and it’s great to see how the standard has improved over the years.
“There’s some really good young players. It’s a great week here but it’s then a lot longer than that with the process of playing in their local areas and regionally and coming through.
“It’s a great carrot for the youngsters to realise they’ve got this opportunity of coming to play at Wimbledon.”
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.