Over the last fortnight over eighty of our players and their families have had the opportunity to visit the Championships at Wimbledon.
Through our centre’s ballot a number of our juniors and adults won tickets for Centre Court as well as the other show courts. It seems that everyone who was lucky enough to attend had a wonderful time and enjoyed seeing past, present and future stars of the game!
Sunday 24th June saw a group of coaches and their friends camping in the Wimbledon queue for the opportunity to see the opening day on Centre Court. Their night under canvas proved successful and everyone had a great time watching Federer and Sharapova in their first round. However the high spot of the day for Eb was having the opportunity to have his photo taken with Ivan Lendl and Goran Ivanisevic.
The first of our larger junior trips saw a group of our keener youngsters from The Canterbury High School spending a day watching tennis on Court 2 and in the practice area. These youngsters were thrilled to get Djokovic’s autograph as well as seeing Del Potro and Heather Watson playing their first matches.
Their tickets were allocated through the Tennis Foundation and provided the pupils with a very important opportunity to see how the professionals ‘work’.
Our second Wimbledon group visit took place on Friday 5th July 2013 when four of our coaches headed towards Wimbledon with some of our younger players.
The group met early in the morning to head towards the Park and Ride at Morden Park. Everyone was very excited and couldn’t wait to arrive at Wimbledon and experience The Championships!
The day proved sunny and on arrival the group headed towards the main entrance to look through the hedge and see where the players arrived. Then it was back to the ticket holders gate where our bags were checked and we finally made it into the grounds.
Being there early gave us the opportunity to visit centre court where preparations for the men’s semis were taking place. The youngsters were amazed by the size of it and were interested to see the doors through which the players entered the court. As we left the area we walked past the banners which showed all the previous winners and wondered if any of our names would be there in the future!
Just outside centre court we found Djokovic practicing. Everyone really enjoyed the opportunity of watching the world’s number 1 at such close range. At the end of the practice all the Appeti youngsters were thrilled to be given one the balls he had just been using.
After a brief visit to Court 1 in the practice court area we saw Bartoli being interviewed and were just able to see Murray warming up for his big match against Del Potro. As we climbed a packed Henman Hill the group had chance to witness Boris Becker, Tim Henman, John McEnroe and Sue Barker discussing the days play.
After lunch we headed to court 10 where the Bryan Brothers were practicing for the following day. With front row seats our players had the opportunity to see these grand slam winners working their shots ensuring everything was ready for their final. After grabbing their autographs and a quick photo opportunity we set for Court 3 where two previous ladies wimbledon champions were playing in the invitational doubles.
It was great to see Martina Navarilova and Pam Shriver playing against Jana Novotna and Barbara Schett. Although there were some great points Novotna and her partner were able to pull ahead and win through 6-1, 6-4.
The play tennis zone was our next destination and everyone had a great time trying to be the fastest server, the quickest on the reaction wall or the winner on the mini tennis courts.
After a long but enjoyable day the group just had time for an ice-cream before heading back to the Park and Ride and from there, after a brief stop at the playground, onto Canterbury.
A great day had been had by all and hopefully in the future some of the youngsters will remember this, their early experience of Wimbledon, when they are playing there!!!