OLIVER SMALLEY, 13, from Cirencester has beaten some much higher ranked players to qualify for the national finals of the HSBC Road To Wimbledon U14 championships to be played at the home of tennis itself in August, writes Danny Hall.

Oliver originally came through the Tennis Plus Modern Tennis Academy’s (www.tennis-plus.co.uk) qualifying event at Chalford TC and then on Saturday he won the county final at Oxstalls Sports Park in Gloucester.

Oliver, a pupil at Marling Grammar School in Stroud, started playing the sport less than two years ago.

He has attended the Tennis For Free sessions held in Cirencester’s St Michael’s Park along with squad sessions there at the Tennis Plus Modern Tennis Academy run by coach Ioan Evans.

Evans said: “This was a fantastic result for Oliver as he wasn’t expected to win the event – it usually goes to Gloucester or Cheltenham-based youngsters.

“As a relatively late starter to the game Oliver has made fantastic progress in a short period of time.

“I was fortunate enough to watch his final and he played some great tennis.”

Oliver’s favourite player is Rafael Nadal – ‘because he never gives up’ – and the Cirencester youngster will need that indomitable spirit when he takes on 47 other boys from around the country on the hallowed turf at Wimbledon from August 11.

The signs are good: last week, playing for Cirencester TC, in an U14 match against Beckford TC, Oliver came through an epic singles clash which lasted 2hr 20min.