West Harling’s Pippa Horn is not about to give up on becoming a top-level professional tennis player after playing her last Junior Wimbledon.
The youngest ever Under-18s National Champion, at 15 in 2010, admitted nerves got the better of her on court four on Monday as she exited the Junior Championships in straight sets in the first round – 6-0, 7-5 to China’s Shilin Xu.
But after qualifying this year to make three consecutive outings at SW19, having never won a singles match, the 17-year-old Norfolk player is not ready to pack in her dream of making a living on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour.
With offers on the table from American colleges specialising in tennis, she looks set to further her education while preparing herself for a professional career in the sport.
“I am just keeping all my options open, but the most likely is I move to an American college both for academic studies and tennis – the standard there is so high and you cannot couple a degree with great tennis in the UK,” said the former Wymondham College pupil, who only played one junior tournament this year prior to Wimbledon after concentrating on her first year of A-levels, which she undertook in Roehampton, opposite the National Tennis Centre.
“You can travel to play tournaments in your holidays, but really it is for developing yourself as a player within the college system.
“If you are good enough, people finish college and can zoom up the rankings.”
Horn, who receives coaching from Louis Cayer, who has worked on both Andy Murray’s and his brother Jamie’s games, was unable to manage the occasion on an almost packed court four on Monday.
Against number-48-ranked junior in the world Xu, Horn, ranked a lowly 1,528 herself after being given a wildcard to qualifying in Roehampton, soon found herself a set down without winning a game and was not able to recover.
“It was definitely a winnable match but I was really nervous, especially in the first set and did not really get into it,” she said.
“In the second set I got into it but still did not play my best tennis.
“If I had not been quite so nervous, or it was a different occasion, I might have been able to beat her.
“She is a really good player though and I am sure she will do really well.”
She added: “There is a lot of expectation at Wimbledon but at the same time there is a lot of support, so it works both ways.
“I definitely felt the expectation, but I put that on myself.”
Horn then went on to exit her first round girls’ doubles match on Tuesday alongside fellow Brit Jasmine Amber Asghar – who she was playing with for the first time – 6-2, 6-3 against eighth seeds Viktoriya Lushkova (Ukraine) and Ioana Loredanna Rosca (Romania).
“The doubles was not that great and to be honest we did not play that great together,” she said.
Horn, who is studying geography, psychology and economics and hopes to progress to business and economics at degree level, will now concentrate on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Women’s Pro Circuit calendar – the second tier of women’s tennis.
She made the quarter finals of the singles in the $10,000 in Bournemouth and the semi-finals in the doubles of the $10,000 in Edinburgh earlier this year.