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Ryan Parkins and Raphael Tan star to win Play Your Way at Wimbledon

From left, Raphael Tan, Tim Henman and Ryan Parkins at the Play Your Way to Wimbledon competition. Picture: Charlie Bennett/Sportsbeat (58652950)
From left, Raphael Tan, Tim Henman and Ryan Parkins at the Play Your Way to Wimbledon competition. Picture: Charlie Bennett/Sportsbeat (58652950)

Ryan Parkins and Raphael Tan enjoyed an unforgettable experience on the manicured lawns of Wimbledon – and got to lift silverware at SW19.

The Cambridge-based pair won the boys’ doubles 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 14 and under and 18 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.

Parkins, 15, who goes to Chesterton Community College and lives in Cambridge, said Nick Kyrgios is his favourite player, while Tan, 16, who goes to The Perse Upper School, is a Rafael Nadal fan.

They beat Georgiy Lesyuk and Tristan Scurr in the boys’ doubles final – and were understandably thrilled to be in attendance at Wimbledon, revealing it was an experience they will never forget.

Parkins said: “It feels pretty good, you’ve won in one of the most famous tennis places in the world so it’s amazing. It’s really good to play here because it’s motivation as well. It’s amazing that this is where all the pros have played, it’s where they’ve stepped foot and hopefully later it will be me on Centre Court and not on the practice court.

“I think that would be the dream, it’s the dream for any tennis player really to play on Centre Court in front of everyone.”

Tan added: “It’s incredible to have won since it’s my first time at Wimbledon. So it’s really inspirational to see where the great’s have played and I’ve really enjoyed it.

“The full week’s been incredible and I think the off-court experiences have shone through as much as on court.

“It’s given us a lot of confidence, it’s our first win together after a long time so lots of confidence has been gained and I’m looking forward to putting that through to our future efforts.”

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.

Former British No.1 Tim Henman was in attendance to cheer on the youngsters at SW19 and offer his experience and advice.

He said: "My involvement goes way back to when this first started in 2002 and really using Wimbledon as the character to inspire the next generation.

“Now the partnership with Vodafone means Play Your Way to Wimbledon really speaks about encouraging that next generation and giving them that access and opportunity.

“It's a game that you can play for life so it's about encouraging more and more people to play tennis at a young age.

“The standard seems like it gets better and better every year and you think about the competition starting in local areas, thousands of kids participating and then the best ones coming through to Wimbledon.

“It's a great environment to see the enthusiasm and energy of all the kids and I think it's been a fantastic week and this is a great way to round it up.”

*Play Your Way to Wimbledon, Powered by Vodafone, is a junior tournament that gives players an opportunity to follow in their heroes’ footsteps and compete on the grass courts at Wimbledon. The All England Club and LTA are proud to partner with Vodafone to relaunch and expand the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK – for more information visit wimbledon.com

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