Talia Neilson Gatenby wants to grow in experience after an opening round defeat to American Jamie Loeb at Wimbledon qualifying, writes Oli Dickson Jefford at Wimbledon Qualifying.

Neilson Gatenby, who trains at the LTA’s National Academy in Loughborough that is offering a pro-style training environment for aspiring professional players, received a wildcard into the qualifying event at Roehampton and was beaten 6-2 6-2 by the experienced Loeb.

The 16-year-old admitted that she found the match a big step up from the junior events she has been competing in, though believes there are lessons from it that can help her development.

She said: “It was tough. I did get off to a pretty bad start. I think the nerves definitely kicked in when I was warming up. It was a good opportunity and I was grateful to be able to play, but I’m not happy with how I played.

“I think I just need practice at these tournaments. I’ve never played at a Grand Slam or really in front of a crowd before, so it was definitely a new experience.

“That will just come with playing loads of tournaments, so hopefully I can try and get my ranking up and play these tournaments more and more, then it will become easier.

“Wimbledon’s obviously my favourite tournament so to be able to play here is amazing. You come here and watch it every year, and then to be able to play is great. I was very happy to receive a wildcard.”

Despite today’s result, Neilson Gatenby’s Wimbledon journey is not over this summer, with her place in the Girls’ Singles at the Championships confirmed.

And the teenager believes this is the perfect time to build on today’s display, saying: “I’m playing Junior Wimbledon, so I think playing this will definitely help with my nerves and how to deal with it on court. I think it will definitely help playing events like this.

“That’s my main focus now, all eyes are on that. I finished my exams this week, so all the focus will be on my tennis from then on really.

“I’ve been [to Wimbledon] quite a lot but not since Covid. I can’t wait to be back!”

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