ROCHFORD’S Olivia King may not have lifted silverware this week on the manicured lawns of Wimbledon – but she still enjoyed an unforgettable experience at SW19.

King, 17, who attends the King Edmund School and lives in Rochford, featured in the national finals at the Play Your Way to Wimbledon event, powered by Vodafone – the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK.

Thousands of 14 and under and 18and under players took part in the qualifying stages this year, leading to county and regional finals in June and July, with the winners progressing to the national finals on Wimbledon’s Aorangi Courts last week.

King, who described Ryan Peniston as her tennis idol, reached the final of the Girls’ Doubles alongside Ellison Fisk – and despite defeat was still thrilled with her attendance at Wimbledon and revealed it was an experience she will never forget.

She said: “Obviously it’s been an amazing experience and I think my favourite moment was when we got to the final.

"We had quite a difficult semi-final match and at the start it was quite tough for us, but then we stepped up and played probably the best we played all week to get to the final.

“It’s just amazing because you’re walking on the ground that the professionals have walked on.

"Not everyone gets a big chance to play on grass the whole time, so it’s also nice to experience a new surface.

“I can get a little bit more confidence from this, knowing that I’ve had the experience that not everyone’s had and that I got as far as I managed to.”

The competition looks to inspire the next generation of tennis talent; allowing junior players to follow in the footsteps of their heroes and compete for a chance to play on Wimbledon’s iconic courts.

Formerly known as the Road to Wimbledon, the competition launched in March and is delivered in partnership by the LTA, The All England Lawn Tennis Club, and Vodafone.

This year’s tournament will deliver over 10,000 playing opportunities across singles and doubles competitions in 800 venues.

From 2023, the LTA and The All England Lawn Tennis Club are planning for the competition to expand further, through the introduction of additional age groups and disability categories, which Vodafone is proud to support, whilst helping to encourage more kids to pick up a tennis racket.

Former British No.1 Tim Henman was in attendance to cheer on the youngsters at SW19 and offer his experience and advice.

He said: "My involvement goes way back to when this first started in 2002 and really using Wimbledon as the character to inspire the next generation.

"Now the partnership with Vodafone means Play Your Way to Wimbledon really speaks about encouraging that next generation and giving them that access and opportunity.

"It's a game that you can play for life so it's about encouraging more and more people to play tennis at a young age.

"The standard seems like it gets better and better every year and you think about the competition starting in local areas, thousands of kids participating and then the best ones coming through to Wimbledon.

"It's a great environment to see the enthusiasm and energy of all the kids and I think it's been a fantastic week and this a great way to round it up."

>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


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