Starstruck Wandsworth schoolboy competes at Wimbledon’s All England Club at just 12 years old

Wandsworth’s Raffaello Papajcik insists he will never forget his outing at the All England Club after starring in front of former British No.1 Tim Henman as part of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge Finals.

The 12-year-old Whitgift School pupil booked himself a spot at SW19 by triumphing in the Regional Finals but was knocked out in the group stages at the iconic venue with three defeats from three matches.

HSBC Road to Wimbledon is Britain’s largest grass court tournament, involving more than 10,000 youngsters each year.

And, despite failing to follow in Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray’s footsteps by lifting silverware at SW19 this year, Papajcik admitted his outing at the All England Club was certainly the highlight of his summer.

“I lost but I found the experience really good,” he said.

“Playing at Wimbledon is really fun. I had never played at Wimbledon. It was really good, the courts are really smooth and there’s no dodgy bounces at all.

“I watched a lot of Wimbledon, and I love it. It is one of the best events of the year.

“I took a picture with Tim Henman and I talked to him a bit.

“He spoke about how I found it and what preparation I do during matches.

“I’ve spoken to a few players like Nadal and Federer before so it is always cool to see them.”

HSBC Road to Wimbledon offers youngsters the chance to meet their tennis heroes and inspire the next generation of Wimbledon stars to take their tennis careers ‘from the back garden to Centre Court’, while it also supports the Wimbledon Foundation through the Ticket Resale Scheme – with the bank matching donations made by the public.

And on Monday Papajcik got the chance to meet former British No.1 and HSBC Tournament Ambassador Henman while playing at Wimbledon.

The former world number four said:  “There’s 20,000 kids every year with the Road to Wimbledon and it’s great to see how the standard has improved over the years,” said Henman, a four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist.

“There’s some really good young players and it’s a great carrot for the youngsters to realise they’ve got this opportunity of coming to play at Wimbledon.

“HSBC has been a proud investor in grassroots tennis around the world since 2008 and the ‘Road To Wimbledon’ National 14 and Under Challenge forms a key part of this investment in grassroots tennis in the UK.”

HSBC is the Official Banking Partner of The Championships and is committed to supporting grassroots tennis, helping to inspire the next generation of Wimbledon stars to take their tennis careers from the back garden to Centre Court through the HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge.

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