By Ben Hart
Altrincham's Susanna Thompson capped a memorable week playing on the manicured lawns of with a wonderful winners’ medal in SW19.
Thompson, 14, who attends Altrincham Grammar School, featured in the national finals at the Play Your Way to Wimbledon event, powered by Vodafone – the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK.
Thousands of fourteen and under and eighteen and under players took part in the qualifying stages this year, leading to county and regional finals in June and July, with the winners progressing to the national finals on Wimbledon’s Aorangi Courts last week.
Thompson finished the group stages undefeated and went onto seal tournament glory after Gabby Read retired hurt in the final, leaving her thrilled with her performances at the end of an unforgettable week in Wimbledon.
She said: “It's unfortunate to end the way it did.
“I feel like I have gradually gotten a bit better, I've had to up my level playing against better opponents.
“I had fun and with people cheering for me, it made me feel really good about myself.
“It feels great to have made it this far, I felt relaxed having made it into the later rounds, it’s not as much pressure. Before I hadn’t really heard of many of the players so wasn’t sure what to expect.
“It’s been amazing, especially the first day walking in and seeing centre court.
“To warm up on the courts the pros have played in is amazing.”
Excited to work with @VodafoneUK as their ambassador for Play Your Way to Wimbledon. Through this tournament, we’ll work with @the_LTA & @Wimbledon to inspire future tennis stars.
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The competition looks to inspire the next generation of tennis talent; allowing junior players to follow in the footsteps of their heroes and compete for a chance to play on Wimbledon’s iconic courts.
Formerly known as the Road to Wimbledon, the competition launched in March and is delivered in partnership by the LTA, The All England Lawn Tennis Club, and Vodafone.
This year’s tournament will deliver over 10,000 playing opportunities across singles and doubles competitions in 800 venues.
From 2023, the LTA and The All England Lawn Tennis Club are planning for the competition to expand further, through the introduction of additional age groups and disability categories, which Vodafone is proud to support, whilst helping to encourage more kids to pick up a tennis racket.
LTA Chief Executive Scott Lloyd has welcomed the new UK Government Sport Strategy, published today by @DCMS
— LTA (@the_LTA) August 30, 2023
Former British No.1 Laura Robson was in attendance to cheer on the youngsters at SW19 and offer her experience and advice.
She said: "It’s just so cool to get the chance to play on these courts at Wimbledon. I still get a buzz every time I walk out there, so I can't imagine how they’re feeling.
“I played Road to Wimbledon when I was much younger and I’m still friends with some of the people that I played against.
“It’s amazing to see how much it’s grown over the years and with the new categories this year it’s bigger and better.
“Growing the game involves letting people enjoy themselves on court and letting themselves have as much fun as possible so they want to come back and do it all over again next year.”
Play Your Way to Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, is the UK’s largest individual mass participation tennis competition that gives players an opportunity to follow in their heroes’ footsteps and compete at Wimbledon. The All England Club and LTA are proud to partner with Vodafone to expand the competition to more players in 2023 with an Adult Doubles pathway, alongside Visual Impairment, Learning Disability and Wheelchair tennis categories.