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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 08:36 GMT 09:36 UK
Road to Wimbledon part two
Anna Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick will play in the ladies' doubles and the junior event

With Wimbledon looming the BBC Sport website is following the progress of Briton Anna Fitzpatrick through qualifying and at The Championships themselves.

The 18-year-old from Sheffield is currently ranked 489 in the world, 15 in Britain and trains at the Monte Carlo Tennis Academy.

Already assured of a place at Wimbledon's junior event, Anna experienced qualifying for the senior event for the first time in her career this week.

Here she describes the rollercoaster ride that ultimately took her to a place in the biggest tennis tournament in the world.

"The day before my first match at Wimbledon qualifying, I went down to the courts to try to get used to the atmosphere. The men's tournament had already started.

"The qualifying competition is not played at the All England Club - it takes place at the Bank of England Sports Ground in Roehampton - and the atmosphere could not be more different to what you see on TV during Wimbledon.


"The biggest crowds at matches are about 100 people. At some, there are only 25 people watching.

"When the draw came out, I didn't look at it. At most tournaments, I don't look at the draw, or if I do, I fold it up so that I only see my section.

"One of my coaches told me last year not to worry about the parts of the draw that are irrelevant to me. The first time I did that I won the tournament, so I have done it ever since.

"I had never heard of my opponent, Junri Namigata of Japan, but she was ranked number 212, which is 277 places above me, so she was the favourite to win. Not knowing much about her helped me to concentrate on my own game.

"I went on court feeling really good, considering it was my first ever match at this level. The evening before, I had thought a bit about the match, but not too much. I knew that if I had started to think 'wow, I'm playing Wimbledon tomorrow', I would have got nervous.

Anna Fitzpatrick
I was so excited I started screaming!

"The first set was tight. I won it 7-5, coming from a break down. In the second, I controlled every game and won it 6-0!

"I was really happy afterwards - pleased that I had put in such a good performance in my first Grand Slam match. I will also now get a minimum of 15 ranking points - more than you get for winning some tournaments and some much-needed cash!

"In the second round, I played Mathilde Johansson of France who was the eighth seed and ranked number 116.

"I lost 6-1 6-2 and was really disappointed because I felt like I had a good chance. She played well, but it wasn't a good match tactically from me.

"I was thinking way too much about her game and how she was hurting me, instead of what I could do to hurt her. I will learn for next time.

"There wasn't time to get too down because I needed to play in the doubles qualifying the same day. I spent some time with my partner, Emily Webley-Smith, and my coaches from the Monte Carlo Tennis Academy, which relaxed me.

"Other than those that you know very well, players tend to keep themselves to themselves. The guys are more relaxed than the girls.

"Everyone is able to eat for free in a players' tent at Wimbledon qualifying. You get treated much better than at future and challenger level. When you are trying to make it, it isn't all big pay-cheques and glamour, so every little bit helps.

"We won our doubles 3-6 6-3 6-3, so we ended the day pretty happy. One more win, and we would qualify for the ladies' doubles at Wimbledon.

"Our opponents were Lilia Osterloh and Sofia Arvidsson, two players who had both been inside the top 50, and we lost 6-3 6-4.

"We had played the right way but didn't execute well when we had our chances. It was disappointing to have got so close and not qualified.

"It had been a week of changing emotions, and it didn't end there. By winning through to the second round, we put ourselves in with a chance of qualifying as a 'lucky loser' - meaning that if another team pulled out of the main draw, we would be in.

"As we were eating dinner, Carl Maes, the head of women's tennis in Britain, came to the table and told me that we would be playing at Wimbledon.

"I was so excited I started screaming! I rang Emily to tell her straight away and she was ecstatic as well. Words can't describe how happy we both were.

"We know we are going to really have to put our games on the court to compete with most of the pairs in the main draw. But we have been rewarded with a great opportunity to see what we can do and we will give it our best."

  • Anna will return during The Championships to tell us about her first experience of the All England Club.

    Road to Wimbledon part one
    20 Jun 07 |  Tennis


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