Laura Robson believes Play Your Way to Wimbledon can have a ‘huge’ impact on British tennis.
Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, is a nationwide competition that allows children in all areas of the country to enter local tournaments, with the opportunity to play on grass at The All England Lawn Tennis Club from 7-13 August for those who qualify through regional and county events.
Former British No.1 Robson took part in the tournament (previously known as Road to Wimbledon) several times when she was younger, providing her with the confidence to win the Girls’ Singles title at Wimbledon aged only 14.
And she believes the scheme’s reach across the UK is a key factor into why it’s so important.
“I was part of Play Your Way to Wimbledon myself back when it was still Road to Wimbledon, and I reckon I probably played it five, six years in a row, all the different age groups that were available,” she said.
“It was a chance to get out there and play a bit of local competition which we didn’t have much of in my area. We usually had to travel five, six hours to get to two clubs and two matches, so it was perfect as a junior.
“It gave me an opportunity and it’s still the same. I watched some of the 14&U Championships matches at Wimbledon this year and everyone was buzzing to be on site, you just get the feel for it.
“It’s amazing and the grassroots level that the LTA is backing as well is going to be huge over the next couple of years, getting more and more people into tennis.”
There is a positive boom in British tennis right now with British juniors such as Jasmine Conway, Mimi Xu and Hannah Klugman all in action in the Girls’ Singles at Wimbledon.
And Robson believes the positive atmosphere within British tennis and at the National Tennis Center in Roehampton translates into how Play Your Way to Wimbledon works.
She added: “I think it’s really nice that they have the older age groups to look up to as well, such as Jodie Burrage, Katie Swan and Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart, Heather Watson, and of course Emma Raducanu.
“There’s a lot of positivity around the NTC and when all the U12 and U14 girls come into training camps, they can see what everyone else is doing and get a feel for it, in the same way Play Your Way works.”
Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, is a junior tournament that gives players an opportunity to follow in their heroes’ footsteps and compete on the grass courts at Wimbledon. The All England Club and LTA are proud to partner with Vodafone to relaunch and expand the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK – for more information visit wimbledon.com .