Horsham tennis starlet Jamie Costa insists he is thirstier 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 at it again on Saturday as he was in action at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon south east regional qualifier at the National Tennis Centre, Roehampton.
Costa was playing for a spot at next month’s HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14-and-under Challenge at the All England Club, but couldn’t find a way past Harvey Conway in the first round, losing 6-1, 6-1.
But despite falling short of the famous SW19 this time, Holy Trinity School pupil Costa is adamant we haven’t seen the last of him.
“It was a fun match, I played some good points, just when I came up to the net I missed too many volleys, I need to get more balls in the court,” said Costa, a member of Holbrook Tennis Club
“I’ve done this tournament for the last two years but at county level, not regional.
“I’ll definitely be back next year to try again, I think it would be overwhelming to play at Wimbledon but a great experience.
“I’ve been playing since I was about six at a competitive level but a bit longer than that when I was much younger, just playing around in the garden and stuff. I just really enjoy tennis.”
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14-and-under Challenge began in 2002 and is an All England Club junior event.
It is an initiative which is 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 Costa, who also trains at Virgin Active Brighton, 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 Jamie 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-and-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.