Wilkinson helps serve up European glory

Chris Wilkinson with the new European Champions
Chris Wilkinson with the new European Champions
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BRITISH tennis is flying high in the junior ranks under the guidance of Chris Wilkinson.

The Lee-on-the-Solent Tennis Club director and former British number one captained the GB under-14s to European glory.

Wilkinson masterminded success for the trio of Sam Ferguson, Jay Clarke and Marcus Walters, who marked themselves out as ones to watch with a series of classy performances.

‘For them now to say that they are European champions at such a young age is an incredible achievement,’ said Wilkinson.

‘They did so well to achieve what they have.

‘I am so proud of all three of them.

‘All of them will, no doubt, have bright futures ahead of them.’

The team made a flying start to the first stage of the competition in Turkey, easily beating Spain, Slovenia and the hosts.

Their success qualified them for the final stage of the tournament in Italy.

Ferguson, Clarke and Walters enjoyed a sweet 2-1 victory over Germany in their opening match in Correggio, in the Emilia-Romagna region of the country.

The semi-final pitted the boys against Hungary and they produced a flawless display to win 2-0.

Sweden then stood between the team and European glory in the final.

Jay Clarke opened up with a singles success but Sweden showed their quality, striking back to level.

Going into the final rubber at 1-1, tensions were running high ahead of the doubles.

But the young Britons held their nerve and came through in style.

‘All of the opposition we faced were really tough but the boys did a fantastic job,’ said Wilkinson.

‘We tried not to put too much pressure on the boys prior to the event.

‘However, all expectations we had were most definitely exceeded.

‘The most outstanding moment has to be the final point in the doubles game.’

For Wilkinson, his role is a welcome chance to get across some of his knowledge and help inspire British tennis talent to future glory.

He added: ‘I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to be the British under-14s boys captain.

‘It is a great way for me to help the boys.

‘Not just with their game play but also with their mental preparation.

‘With my experience, I can understand what the players are feeling.’