Tennis stars Henman and Ivanisevic join young aces on road to Wimbledon

The Road to Wimbledon Image 2New Delhi: Following successful qualifying events in Kolkata, Chandigarh, Delhi and Mumbai earlier this year, The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and HSBC have reaffirmed their commitment to developing tennis in India with the All India Tennis Association (AITA), by bringing Wimbledon legends Tim Henman and Goran Ivanisevic to pass on their skills and experience to a new generation at the Road to Wimbledon Delhi Masters 2015.

The Delhi Masters will take place on 6 – 11 April to mark the culmination of the Road to Wimbledon 2015 tournament in India. Aimed at boosting the development of junior tennis in India, The Road to Wimbledon is a tournament for players aged 14 and under and offers four regional winners who qualify for the Junior Masters, in Delhi, and two coaches, the chance to play on Wimbledon’s famous grass courts at the UK HSBC National Finals on the grass at Wimbledon in August (10-15).

Croatian Ivanisevic, Wimbledon Champion in 2001 and runner up in 1992, 1994 and 1998 and Henman, four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist, will be accompanied by All England Club Head Coach Dan Bloxham to host a series of coaching clinics in Delhi to mark the climax of this year’s Road to Wimbledon tournament in India.

Until last year The Road to Wimbledon was a UK only tournament, but 2014 saw India host the first Wimbledon-branded tennis events staged outside the UK as The Road to Wimbledon arrived in Delhi and Mumbai. The move paid immediate dividends when 14-year-old Siddhant Banthia, from Pune, beat off competition from the UK and India to win the boys' singles title.

Henman, who kick-started his career in India in 1994 with three successive tournament wins on the Indian satellite circuit, said: “This is my third time in India in the past year as part of the Road to Wimbledon with HSBC and we are starting to see some positive results already with the young talent here showing signs of following in the footsteps of last year’s winner Siddhant Banthia. I have great memories of tennis in India as it was here that I made my breakthrough and hopefully with support from the All England Club and HSBC, The Road to Wimbledon could provide a real springboard for a new generation of talent in India.”

Ivanisevic, famous for being the only wildcard to have won the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles Championship, said: “The chance to play at Wimbledon is something young tennis players all over the world aspire to. Thanks to the All England Club and HSBC this dream could become a reality for some of the young talent here in India. It is fantastic to see India’s rich history of grass court tennis alive and well, and with more grass courts in India than any other country outside the UK, these talented young players have the chance to create their own grass court history.”

Richard Lewis, Chief Executive of the AELTC, said: “The prospect of playing at Wimbledon is now within touching distance for those competing at the Delhi Masters this week and we look forward to welcoming the finalists to the lawns of the All England Club at the UK National Finals in August.”

Anil Khanna, President of the AITA, said: “We continue to work closely with the All England Club and HSBC to make The Road to Wimbledon a success in India. Tim, Goran, Dan and Tournament Director Paul Hutchins, have been truly inspirational.

Their coaching clinics for India’s young tennis players combined with their coach education workshops will provide a great foundation across all levels of tennis in India and we look forward to continuing this work with them for the next three years.

Tournament director Paul Hutchins said: The All England Club and HSBC are committed to broadening the appeal and participation in grass court tennis across Asia. Holding the Road to Wimbledon in India over the next three years is an ideal platform to do this, and so too are the development and coach education sessions run by Road to Wimbledon and HSBC with Tim, Goran and Dan. We are incredibly grateful to the AITA and local regional India Tennis Associations for their support.

HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship & Events Giles Morgan said: “India is a hugely important market for us and Wimbledon is one of the jewels in the crown of our sponsorship portfolio and it is satisfying to see this partnership flourish.

“Our existing support for The Road to Wimbledon involves 700 clubs and thousands of children from all over the UK but this three year commitment in India adds a whole new dimension to the initiative. Siddhant has set the bar pretty high and we believe that the Road To Wimbledon will continue to provide the perfect stage for the next generation of Indian tennis talent.”