Putney tennis starlet Katie Dando insists she is hungrier than ever to see her name in lights after falling just short of booking her spot at a Wimbledon tournament.
The 13-year-old turned out at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon south east regional qualifier at West Worthing Tennis & Squash Club in an attempt to underline her future potential.
Dando was playing for a spot at next month’s HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge at the All England Club but, despite winning her first match, could not book a place.
She lost 6-0 6-2 to Danielle Daley in the first qualifying round but Dando, who is a member of Roehampton Lawn Tennis Club, is adamant we have not seen the last of her.
“It was nice to have a challenge and play against players who are better because often it is difficult to match up against them,” said Dando.
“Whenever I play against someone better I can see they keep the ball in play and have a better margin of error.
“I think I didn’t try and impose my game enough in the first set but I was happier in the second set as I took more risks.
“That is what you need to do against these better players as you cannot just wait for them to make mistakes.
“I always enjoying playing in this tournament because it happens every year and it is quite prestigious. Hopefully I can do better next year.”
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 youngsters bidding to reach the national final at the All England Club.
And although Dando failed to advance to Wimbledon this year, former Davis Cup captain and tournament director Paul Hutchins believes she 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 Katie will be inspired to enter the event next year if age eligible or be spurred on to greater achievements in her junior career.
“And who knows she may play at Junior Wimbledon during the Championships or even compete as a pro player in the main draw one day.”
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.