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Playing at the Wimbledon Championships - July 2002

Since reaching the final of the 15u Nationals last year, I have been working very hard with my training and fitness at Sutton together with studying for my GCSE’s.

This year, I played in the pre-qualifying event for Wimbledon and won all three matches which I was very pleased about. I then played in the first round of the qualifying event on grass at Roehampton. At 9am that morning I was sitting my GCSE Physics exam which meant I had to rush to Roehampton in the afternoon to play A Barna from Germany. I played well and had my chances but eventually lost 4-6, 4-6. This was not too bad as she has been up in the top 100 in the world.

I was then granted a wild card into Junior Wimbledon. This was the best achievement and experience I have had in my tennis career and my life. When I got the phone call to say that my recent good results in the pre-qualifying and qualifying for the senior event at Wimbledon meant I had been given a wild card into the Juniors main Draw I was so excited I could not believe it.

Every year I had been to Wimbledon and seen my idols play. Only last year, I had interviewed Jelena Dokic for a magazine article and now I was ‘playing’ in the tournament. My name was on the order of play board along with all those famous names. I was able to go in and out of Wimbledon freely with my competitor’s pass and was allowed to go into the Aorangi Park complex. I was able to practise on the courts where my idols had practised before their matches. I was surrounded by my idols It was a great privilege but I had deserved it.

When I played on court 7 it was really strange. I was on a court at Wimbledon, something I had always wanted to do. The courts are a bit harder than they look. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I played the number 12 seed in my singles and then the number 1 seeds on court 17 in the doubles. Although I lost both matches (this time) it was the best experience of my life and I learnt a lot. It was so strange when I was asked for my autograph for the very first time. It was outside Wimbledon as we were going to our car. I was asked to sign the page of the Wimbledon brochure where my name was on the draw for a family from Australia.

Mel xx

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