Joel keeps sights on Wimbledon.
HE may have missed out on the chance to follow in Sir Andy Murray's footsteps at Wimbledon this summer but Cleveland star Joel Gibson insists his tennis dreams still burn brightly.
World number one Murray will once again spearhead the British charge when this year's Championships get under way on Monday.
Nunthorpe Academy pupil Joel had the chance to join him when he took part at last weekend's HSBC Road to Wimbledon North Regional Qualifier at Ilkley.
The 12-year-old was playing for a spot at the national finals of the 14 and under challenge at the All England Club in August. And, despite falling short of a memorable outing this time around, Joel is adamant we haven't seen the last of him after losing out to Danny Urey 6-3 6-2 in the second round.
"In the first set I didn't play great, but in the second I dug in more and created more opportunities," he said.
"I had never played my opponent before but I knew he was a good player and one that would be powerful on grass.
"I'm working on my backhand at the moment because I've just switched to onehand shots.
"This was my debut at the Road to Wimbledon. It was good to play on grass, it doesn't happen often, but it was really fast. It was a lot faster game on the grass.
"It took me a bit by surprise because I've never played on grass before but I did as much as I could to adapt to the fast game."
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon Challenge forms part of HSBC's investment in grassroots tennis; an area of the sport the Official Banking Partner of The Championships has been supporting since 2008.
Each year over 10,000 youngsters take part in the series of national tennis tournaments, helping to inspire the next generation of Wimbledon stars to take their tennis careers from the back garden to Centre Court.
And while their own Wimbledon dream is over for another year, Joel insists he will be watching this year's Championships closely, keeping an eye on one favourite player in particular.
"I'll be definitely watching Wimbledon this week, I reckon Roger Federer has a good chance of winning," he added.
"He's one of my favourite players to watch - I love his game style and I like how he always mixes it up. He's definitely my role model.
"In ten years' time, I obviously want to be the best player I can be. I'd like to make the top 100 in the world one day."
| 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. @HSBC_sport Joel Gibson