Ben Horton has won the Sussex HSBC Road to Wimbledon final and won the opportunity to play at the home of the world’s premier tennis tournament.
The HSBC Road to Wimbledon 14-and-under Challenge is in its tenth year and is the largest junior lawn tennis event in the UK with more than 850 clubs and schools across the country taking part.
It takes three stages of competitive tennis to determine who will be the next HSBC Road to Wimbledon champion and starts at singles events staged at schools and tennis clubs.
Stage one of the competition is held at local level. The two best under-14 boys and girls from each school or club qualify for stage two, the county finals.
In August the winning boy and girl from each county travel to the prestigious All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon to play in the national finals.
Horton, a member of Chichester Racquets and Fitness Club, qualified to play in the county finals as the winning finalist of the stage-one event hosted by his club.
He played through the first three rounds of the knockout competition, held at Lewes, to reach the semi-finals and final, which took place on the grass courts at West Worthing Tennis Club.
It was a great day for Horton. In the semi-final, he had a comfortable win against Jack Beuttel-Triggs from Preston Tennis Club in Brighton with a score of 6-2, 6-0 to take him on to the final against Logan Burgess-Hayes from Brighton Health & Racquets Club.
In the final Horton kept his resolve during the first set, coming from 3-0 down to win 7-5.
At deuce in the first game of the second set, the heavens opened and play was suspended. The rain was too heavy to continue play and the remainder of the match was played indoors, which seemed to suit Burgess-Hayes who went on to win the second set 6-4.
In an exciting championship tie-break it appeared to be going Burgess-Hayes’ way as he forged a 5-8 lead. Horton, however, held his nerve and pulled the next five points out of the bag to win 10-8 and claim the match.
It has been a great year for Horton. In March he won the Sussex Winter Postal event. In April and May he was part of the Sussex team in the County Cup as they reached the national final in Nottingham and finished runners-up to Surrey.
In June he won the Darren Toop Open, a grade-three regional tournament in Bournemouth, and now the chance to compete at Wimbledon is the icing on the cake.