HEREFORD tennis starlet Alexandru Pavel 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 14-year-old has long been known as one to watch for the future and was in action again on Saturday at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon Midlands Regional Qualifier at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.
Pavel was playing for a spot at next month’s HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge at the All England Club but lost out in the second round to third seed Rahul Dhokia, going down 3-6 6-2 6-1.
But despite falling short of the famous SW19 this time, Whitecross High School pupil Pavel is adamant we haven’t seen the last of him.
“I beat someone rated higher than me in the first round, so it's good for me to know that I can beat these players,” said Pavel, who plays at Whitecross Tennis Club.
“I could have done better against Rahul if my back hadn't started hurting and I hadn't hurt the tendons in my wrist as well.
“Hopefully I'll come back again next year to try and play at Wimbledon - that inspires me to keep going, but so does the joy of playing tennis. I just love being out on the court.”
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 even expanded into Asia with a pilot scheme run in India with events in Delhi and Mumbai.
It 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 Pavel failed to advance former Davis Cup captain and tournament director Paul Hutchins believes he is still one to watch out for in the future.
“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,” said Hutchins.
“Hopefully Alexandru 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.”
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.