Road to Wimbledon: Teenage Morden tennis star nets Tim Henman masterclass

A Morden tennis starlet believes her game will come on leaps and bounds after a lesson from former British No.1 Tim Henman at Wimbledon.

Jodie Lawrence-Taylor  was at the All England Club on Saturday to learn some tips of the trade from Henman as well as playing a few points against the four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist.

The 14-year-old earned the opportunity after reaching the final of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge last summer.

Taylor, who trains at Sutton Tennis Academy, spent a week playing at SW19 last August before ultimately falling 7-6, 6-4 to Nell Miller in the final.

Her strong performances gave the Cheam High School pupil the chance to train with Henman 12 months later, while 1999 ladies champions Lindsay Davenport was also on hand to hit with and Taylor admits it’s an experience she will never forget.

“It was really good – it was great to be able to hit with two very good professional players and see what it was like to play on the grass with them when they’ve done well at Wimbledon themselves,” she said.

“It was a little bit of a struggle for me at the start because it was a bit of a different warm-up than I’m used to. But once I got into it, it was good and I was happy with it.

“I remember it was a really good time last year because I got to bring my family down and show them Wimbledon.

“It was a really nice experience to play here. I lost in the final but I was happy with that because I’d had a tough summer up until then and that felt like a turning point in my game.”

The HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & under Challenge began in 2002 and is an All England Club junior event initiative supported by the LTA – it has now expanded into Asia with a pilot scheme run in India seeing events held in Delhi and Mumbai.

It is the largest junior tournament in the UK, involving some 850 clubs, parks and schools with youngsters annually bidding to reach the national final at the All England Club.

And Henman admits there was plenty of talent on display from all of last year’s finalists, including Taylor, on Saturday.

“I was very impressed with what I saw from all the kids out there,” he said. “I’ve been involved with HSBC Road to Wimbledon for about 13 years now and the standard gets better and better every year.

“The programme is about accessibility, grassroots and the participation but hopefully some of these youngsters out on the court will progress as well and maybe get back here as professionals one day.”

The HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge is the UK’s largest national junior grass court tournament and forms part of HSBC’s investment in the stars of the future.

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