COLE Shepard is on the Road to Wimbledon after winning the Essex finals of the HSBC-backed competition.

The David Lloyd Southend member defeated Thorpe Bay’s Daniel Smith 6-1 6-2 in the Essex boys’ final at Redbridge Sports Centre to book his place in the national final at the All England Club.

Cole was number two seed and defeated Matthew Edwards (Cranston Park) in their semi-final, to book his place against top seed Daniel, who beat Garons’ Neil Kumar in their semi-final.

Neil, who played well above his seeding and rating, lost 6-1 6-1 to Matthew in the third-fourth place play-off.

Joining Cole at SW19 will be Cranston Park’s Hannah Panchal, who defeated Amie Stingmore (Harlow) in the girls’ final.

In the consolation events, Patrick Milner (Garons) won the boys’ event and Robyn Stone (Westcliff Hardcourt) won the girls’.

The competitors were all either winners or runners up in their club or school 14 and under tournament and rated 7.1 or lower.

This is the third year of the new format, introduced by the LTA, to give the lower rated players a chance to go to Wimbledon.

The organisers and referees of the event were Westcliff couple Lesley and Ian Pitt.