New Delhi, Jan 2 (IANS) Former Britain No.1 Tim Henman will be in India to spearhead a major new initiative aimed at boosting the development of junior tennis in the country in association with The Wimbledon Foundation.
India will host the first Wimbledon tennis event outside Britain as 11-time-Tour winner Henman heads to Delhi and Mumbai in January to launch The Road to Wimbledon in India with a series of coaching clinics and events offering local children the chance to play at Wimbledon next August.
Henman, who kick-started his career in India in 1994 with three successive tournament wins on the Indian satellite circuit, will be joined by All England Club Head Coach Dan Bloxham, for the activity in Delhi and Mumbai Jan 6-14.
The Wimbledon Foundation, the community, charitable and development arm of the All England Club and The Championships, Wimbledon, and HSBC have linked with All India Tennis Association (AITA) on this pilot scheme as the first phase of a long-term plan to support the development of Indian tennis.
The clinics are part of two national ’14 and under’ singles events in Delhi (RK Khanna Tennis Centre) and Mumbai (MSLTA Tennis Centre). The top sixteen boys and girls from these two events will be invited to the Wimbledon Foundation Junior Masters in Delhi in April with the two boys and two girls finalists invited to compete in the UK HSBC National Finals on the grass at Wimbledon next August.
“India has a special place in my heart – 2014 marks twenty years since I made my breakthrough on the Indian satellite circuit, winning eighteen successive singles matches. This is pretty much where it started for me and thanks to The Wimbledon Foundation and HSBC this could be the start for a whole generation of Indian children,” said Henman.
Philip Brook, chairman of the All England Club, said: “Launching The Road to Wimbledon in India is a major landmark for us and it’s superb that both Tim and Dan are going to be so closely involved. We look forward both to a long and successful partnership, and to welcoming the first finalists to the lawns of the All England Club at our UK National Finals next August.”
AITA president Anil Khanna said: “It is great news that Tim Henman and Dan Bloxham are coming over to Delhi and Mumbai with The Wimbledon Foundation and HSBC. It will be a really good boost for Indian juniors to have the opportunity to play and be coached by Tim and Dan over the six days they are in Delhi and Mumbai. It will also be a good opportunity for the AITA to discuss with The Wimbledon Foundation and HSBC some future ideas to assist junior tennis in India.”