Callum eyes a bright future

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SUNDERLAND tennis starlet Callum Todd 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 at it again on Saturday as he was in action at the HSBC Road to Wimbledon North Regional Qualifier at Ilkley Lawn Tennis Club.

Todd was playing for a spot at next month’s HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14 & Under Challenge at the All England Club but couldn’t find a way past eventual winner Ying Hou in the semi-final, losing 7-6, 2-6, 7-5.

But despite falling short of the famous SW19 this time, St Robert of Newminster School pupil Todd is adamant we haven’t seen the last of him.

“I didn’t think I would get into this tournament because I haven’t been fit very much but when I saw my name on the draw I thought it’s great and I’ve got a good chance of getting through,” said Todd, a member of Virgin Active Wearside.

“I have had problems with my back and problems with my legs, because of growing and that, so I hadn’t played any tournaments for a while.

“It was a high-standard game but it was just unfortunate that I couldn’t do better in it. It was a really good match – I played well and he played well – but at the end of the day whoever plays better and whoever gets the luck on the day wins.

“I thought I had a chance at the end but he stepped up his game a bit and I didn’t take my chances when I had them.”

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 Todd 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 Callum 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.”

h 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.