Playing the Babolat Cup UK 2017
It was a gathering of some of the finest young talent in the country. Sixteen boys and girls, all twelve and under at the end of the summer season, qualified for the Babolat cup in Birmingham either by winning their respective county closed title or one of the grade 3 events sponsored by Babolat. So it was sure to be a quality event with some glittering silverware awaiting the two winners.
Luca had booked his place by winning the Middlesex title but knew he’d have his work cut out. He began well enough with a win against Cornwall’s Champion but then came a quarter-final with Luca Pow who’d finished the summer season number one in the country and who was destined to go on and win this title as well.
My Luca began in positive fashion but too many unforced errors meant he never threatened to cause an upset, hence the sheepish face afterwards.
The sponsors knew how to look after everyone on Saturday night. A player party included free food, fun and games and a mesmerising performance from a local magician. Hopefully I’ll get my wallet back one day!
What really stood out was the camaraderie of the players, most of whom got on like a house on fire. Tennis is, of course, an individual sport but the friends Luca has made along the way have meant as much to him as all the titles. I urge those parents who don’t appear to encourage their children’s social skills (sadly there are often signs of that and it was evident in Birmingham) to make it a priority.
Day two proved tough for team Luca with a couple of narrow defeats, the second 11-9 in a third set tie-break. I think he learnt a lot from those matches though and is young enough to try and qualify again next year. Learning to lose is so important and although the outcome meant a rather silent journey home I hope it will prove to be another useful step along the bumpy road that thrills and exasperates us all.
See you somewhere soon in person and on Sky Sports for the Paris and Shanghai Masters and World Tour finals at the 02 this autumn.