Tim Henman was at the All England Club on Saturday to present to the trophies to the winners of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon tournament. Henman spoke to the Wimbledon blog and he was clearly impressed by the standard on display although he lamented the dearth of serve and volley players.
“There were some good juniors when we were playing but when you look at the depth and overall standards here it’s been fantastic,” Henman said on finals day of the national under 14 tournament supported by the All England Club. “This isn’t necessarily about trying to produce a Wimbledon champion, it’s about giving more and more kids the chance to play tennis which, in the long run, will help the development of the game because if you have more and more kids playing you make the base of the pyramid wider and you will get the better ones coming through to the top of the game.
“This is one of the best, biggest opportunities to get so many kids involved with the game when you’re talking about a nationwide schools tournament. I think there’s been 20,000 kids participating and it’s such a great incentive to have the finals at Wimbledon. I’m sure loads of kids have seen it on TV but have never had the chance to play here.”
Henman, who retired in 2007, is remembered for his exisquite volley as one of the few practioners of the serve and volley art on the men’s tour. He said he had not seen any players using the serve and volley approach.
“It’s just the way the game has evolved. It’s definitely become harder and harder to play a serve and volley game, the courts themselves are a bit slower and they plays return and the way they move. And it just makes it harder to play that type of game.
“You’ve got someone like [Ivo] Karlovic and he’s able to serve and volley most of the time but the kids are probably not taught to volley, so much of their games are centred around their serve and their baseline. It’s something we’ve got to be aware of; we don’t want the art of volleying to die out. If everyone’s playing the same it’s less appealing to watch.”