ILMINSTER tennis starlet Louis Skupien insists he is hungrier than ever to see his name in lights after falling just short of booking his spot at a prestigious Wimbledon tournament.
The 12-year-old has long been known as one to watch for the future and was at it again on Sunday as he was in action at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon South West Regional Qualifier at East Glos Club in Gloucestershire.
Skupien was playing for a spot at next month’s HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge at the All England Club but couldn’t find a way past Saif Ali in the first round, losing 6-1 6-3.
But despite falling short of the famous SW19 this time Skupien, who trains at the University of Exeter, is adamant we haven’t seen the last of him.
He said: “It was good out there but I was getting quite a lot of unforced errors and that was a pain.
“I think I came into the tournament on form but without those errors I probably could have done a lot better. Maybe if I’d been playing on a hard court it would have been different – I very rarely play on grass.
“I went to Wimbledon a year ago for a demonstration match for the South-West, and it is hugely motivational to try and get back and play there again.
“I think I’ve got to work on my movement and with my consistency of shots, but hopefully I’ll have a chance next year.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & under Challenge is the largest junior tournament in the UK, involving some 850 clubs, parks and schools with youngsters bidding to reach the national final at the All England Club.
And although Skupien failed to advance former Davis Cup captain and tournament director Paul Hutchins believes he is still one to watch out for in the future.
Hutchins said: “Players are always disappointed when they miss out on qualifying for the HSBC Road to Wimbledon and a chance to play on the grass at Wimbledon.
“Hopefully Louis will be inspired to enter the event next year if age eligible or be spurred on to greater achievements in his junior career and who knows maybe play at Junior Wimbledon during the Championships or even as a pro player in the main draw.”
n 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.