Now into its 16th year, the HSBC Road to Wimbledon Finals were once again played in a great spirit by both UK and overseas players, with competitors coming from locations such as Cornwall, China, Scotland, India and Hong Kong.

As ever when on grass the weather becomes a factor and we were very lucky only to have had one day of interruption but played every day on grass with very few matches played indoors.

Some days we finished in darkness, but referees Denise Parnell and Peter Finn coped, as did the players, with 380 matches completed during the course of the week.

The grass was again amazing and appreciated by all. How the ground staff get the grass so good after such a short break from The Championships I will never know.

The adjacent No.1 Court construction became an interesting side show all week, as all present saw how quickly two of the Aorangi Practice Courts were transformed into a concrete platform ready for the heavy roof steel works.

No.1 Court will certainly become one of the best courts in the world once it is completed in time for the 2019 Championships.

It was great to welcome the Chinese, Hong Kong and Indian players, all of whom had competed in the Road To Wimbledon events in their respective countries during April and May, with the four finalists from the overseas Road To Wimbledon Masters being invited to our finals.

During the junior events in the second week of The Championships, it was very good to see Siddhant Bhantia and Mahak Jain from India competing, as they had previously won the Road to Wimbledon in 2014/15 and have since then progressed to the top 100 of the ITF junior rankings, earning them a place in the main draw of the boys’ singles and girls’ singles respectively.

Once again Tim Henman and Dan Bloxham gave the runners up of the County Finals a tennis clinic on the Final Saturday which was a great thrill for the players who had travelled from all over the UK to be part of the clinic.

Dan and Tim were joined by the overseas juniors who helped with hitting and motivating the juniors.

It was once again a great example of Dan and Tim’s expertise in logistically coping with the nearly 50 juniors who had come from all the counties in the UK, and constituted a great chance for the juniors to play on grass.

The standard all week I feel has improved from previous years and there were many excellent matches in often a very competitive spirit, especially the semi-finals and finals.

Congratulations must go to the boys’ singles winners of the regional and county ‘tracks’, Ali Habib and Joshua Ben, and the girls’ singles winners Huang Zi Yi from China and Ellie Blackford who, at 11 years of age, won the county track singles.

All the boys and girls doubles also were played after the singles followed by the annual presentations with the VIP’s who presented the prizes including, John and Angela Barrett, Dan Bloxham, Chairman Philip Brook and Tim Henman.

I want to thank everyone who supported the Road to Wimbledon and the HSBC Finals with the next step being the planning for the next UK Road to Wimbledon and the Asian cities that we will be visiting again to take the Road to Wimbledon to a wide and appreciative junior audience of players and coaches, further expanding the reach of grass court tennis for junior players in different countries across the world.

Paul Hutchins

Road to Wimbledon 2017 Finals Review