James Ward misses out on Wimbledon
CAMDEN'S James Ward has been denied a Wimbledon wildcard, despite eliminating two of the world s top 80 players and reaching the quarter-finals of the AEGON International in Eastbourne this week. The 23-year-old, from Eversholt Street...
By Ben Pearce
CAMDEN'S James Ward has been denied a Wimbledon wildcard, despite eliminating two of the world's top 80 players and reaching the quarter-finals of the AEGON International in Eastbourne this week.
The 23-year-old, from Eversholt Street near Euston station, knocked out Spain's Feliciano Lopez (30) and Germany's Rainer Schuettler (72) - who both reached the semi-finals at Queen's Club last week.
Ward eventually bowed out in the last eight today, going down 6-3, 6-4 to Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov - the world 47.
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And yet, despite his heroics, Britain's No5 has been denied a shot at Wimbledon by the All England Club, who have only allocated five wildcards instead of the usual eight.
Scandalously, their decision means that there will not be an Englishman competing in the men's draw at Wimbledon in the competition's 133-year history.
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The Lawn Tennis Association maintain that only players with a world ranking of 250 or better will be eligible for a wildcard, and Ward is currently ranked at 342 - well outside the cut-off point.
However, that is largely because he was diagnosed with glandular fever in September 2009 - when he was ranked at a career-high 189th - and took almost six months to recover.
To make matters worse, the sense of injustice is only increased by the fact that Britain's No2, Scotsman Jamie Baker, has been handed a Wimbledon wildcard - even though his ranking of 259 is also outside the cut-off point.
"It was a bit disappointing not to be given a wildcard because I was out for six months," said Ward. "I wish that had been taken into consideration because I have been in the top 250 for the last 18 months consistently."
Infuriatingly, Ward would have jumped into the top 250 in the world if he had beaten Dolgopolov today.
However, the LTA had already taken its decision on its allocation of Wimbledon wildcards, preventing anyone from making a late impression.
Former Great Britain captain David Lloyd said: "I do feel sorry for James Ward after doing so well this week. You would have thought that they [the LTA] would have kept one wildcard floating just in case someone did well this week, which obviously James has done.
"Why is Jamie Baker in? That's what makes the LTA a mockery. They break the 250-ranking rule for Baker but they don't break it for Ward. I feel sorry for every single young player in this country and for the British public. We are a disaster and have been for years."
Ward was offered the chance to qualify for Wimbledon this week but chose to play at Eastbourne instead.
Having made his Davis Cup debut against Lithuania in March, he will now practice for Great Britain's upcoming relegation tie against Turkey - which takes place the week after Wimbledon.