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Tebbutt: Getting into Wimbledon

Jun 26, 2018
written by: Tom Tebbutt
written by: Tom Tebbutt

The easiest way to get into Wimbledon is to be a member of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

There are five categories: 1. full members 2. life members 3. honorary members 4. temporary members and 5. junior members. The first three categories are limited to 500 in number and include singles winners of The Championships admitted as honorary members. The annual dues for members is modest – approximately 120 pounds or $210 Canadian.

Not just anyone can become a member and there has long been the story, possibly apocryphal, of an Arab sheik who showed up at the All England Club expecting to pay his dues and become a member only to be politely informed that’s not quite the way things are done at the esteemed AELTC on Church Road, London SW 19.

Club members receive an allotment of tickets and grounds passes for the fortnight. For the less fortunate there are other means of getting tickets such has purchasing pricey debentures, buying travel packages, belonging to clubs in Britain, entering the annual lottery and registering at Wimbledon.com for MyWimbledon which daily makes “several hundred” tickets available for the following day at ticketmaster.co.uk.

The face value of Centre Court seats varies from 60 pounds ($106 Can.) for the opening day on July 2 to 220 pounds ($388. Can.) for the men’s final on July 15th.

For many people, the famous Wimbledon ‘queue’ is the best bet for tickets for Centre Court, Court No. 1, Court No. 2 and Court No. 3 – as well as for several thousand daily grounds passes.

Here are the basic details available on Wimbledon.com:

Queueing Procedures

Early in the morning (approximately 6am) anyone in The Queue will be woken by the Stewards, asked to dismantle any overnight equipment, and close up into a tighter formation to create space for those joining The Queue on the day.

At approximately 7:30am Stewards will issue wristbands to those towards the front of The Queue who are queuing for tickets for the Show Courts. The number of wristbands issued exactly matches the quantity of tickets available for each court on that day.

As for the players, 104 men and 108 women get direct acceptance into the Wimbledon singles draws based on their rankings – although that can vary depending on players using protected rankings or others who withdraw for various reasons. Tomas Berdych, ranked No. 18 at the entry deadline on May 21, has pulled out with a back problem. It will be costly for the 32-year-old Czech. A semi-finalist a year ago, he loses 700 points and will drop from No. 23 to outside the top 50 on July 16th.

In actual fact this year’s entry cut-off will be No. 108 for both men and women because the Wimbledon committee decided to use only four of its eight wild cards for the men’s event – writing in a media release that the remaining four spots were “Not used – Next direct acceptance.”

There were seven wild cards for men’s doubles pairs and six were used – including No. 102-ranked Daniel Nestor getting one to play with No. 711 Jurgen Melzer. Nestor, 45, and Melzer, 37, are former champions – Nestor with Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia in 2008 and 2009 and Melzer with Philipp Petzschner of Germany in 2010. Nestor’s wild card will enable him to make his farewell and final 24th appearance in the Wimbledon ‘gentlemen’s doubles’ event.

The only Canadian direct entrants in singles at this year’s Wimbledon are No. 26-ranked Denis Shapovalov, No. 32 Milos Raonic and No. 93 Vasek Pospisil.

Shapovalov lost in the first round to Jerzy Janowicz of Poland in his debut last year and so has yet to record a win at Wimbledon. As for Raonic – runner-up to Andy Murray in 2016, semi-finalist (Roger Federer) in 2014, quarter-finalist (Federer) last year – and Pospisil, a quarter-finalist (Murray) in 2015, they have much more of an established pedigree at Wimbledon.

Despite being ranked higher than Raonic, it appears Shapovalov will not come off as well under the formula used by Wimbledon for seeding purposes – it adds 100 per cent of a player’s points earned on grass over the past year and 75 per cent of points from the 12 months before that to the points in his current ranking. That basically only gets Shapovalov 65 points from qualifying and winning a round at Queen’s Club in 2017 while Raonic gets his runner-up points against Federer two weeks ago in Stuttgart, his Wimbledon 2017 quarter-finalist points as well as a huge boost from the points for being the 2016 Wimbledon finalist.

Only players already ranked in the top 32 can be moved according Wimbledon’s grass-court adjusted seeding formula. That was done so players in the top 32 would not lose their seeding spot even if it was changed.

So it looks like Raonic gets moved up all the way up to a No. 13 seeding while Shapovalov drops and will be the No. 28 seed. That could still change slightly if one or more players above them were to pull out.

Seedings for the women go directly off the WTA rankings although Wimbledon revealed in May that there could be an exception made “where, in the opinion of the committee, a change is necessary to produce a balanced draw.”

That essentially was in reference to the Serena Williams situation. Currently ranked No. 183, the seven-time champion – and winner in both the last two years she played (2015 and 2016) – missed more than 12 months giving birth last September and has used a protected ranking to enter. But that does not apply to seeding. An announcement will be made Wednesday about whether Williams will be among the seeded players – according to a report in The Daily Mail it appears Wimbledon may follow the lead of the US Open and make allowance for her absence because of her pregnancy and award her a seeded position.

As for Canadians in the women’s event, Carol Zhao, Francoise Abanda, Bianca Andreescu and Genie Bouchard all entered the qualifying this week at Roehampton, about a 20-minute drive from Wimbledon.

Bouchard made a dazzling debut on Tuesday with comprehensive 6-0, 6-2 victory over No. 130-ranked Zhu Lin of China. Now ranked No. 191 and playing the Wimbledon qualifying for the first time, Bouchard led 6-0, 3-0 before the 24-year-old Chinese got a game. Watched by her coach Robert Lansdorp, the legendary 80-year-old Californian who has mentored such champions as Tracy Austin, Pete Sampras and Lindsay Davenport, the 24-year-old Canadian seemed to have rekindled her old form (Wimbledon runner-up in 2014) on the grass courts at the qualifying event.

She will next play No. 219-ranked Karolina Muchova. The 21-year-old Czech has no record at any of the four Grand Slam events.

A year ago, both Abanda and Andreescu made it through qualifying to the main draw with Abanda reaching the second round where she lost a close match 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 to Jelena Ostapenko, with the Latvian fresh off her title at the French Open.

On Tuesday, Abanda was beaten 7-5, 6-4 in the first round by Antonia Lottner. The 21-year-old German ranks No. 140 and has recently performed well at grass court events. Andreescu advanced to round two with a convincing 6-2, 6-0 victory over No. 166-ranked Grace Min of the U.S. The 18-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., will next play  No. 108 Duan Yingying of China.

Playing in her first Wimbledon qualifying, Zhao was beaten 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 by No. 148 Deborah Chiesa of Italy.

If no Canadian woman was to make it through and play in the main draw at Wimbledon, it would be the first time that has occurred since 2006.

On the men’s side, Peter Polansky and Brayden Schnur won their opening-round qualifying matches on Monday and will play their second rounds Tuesday – Polansky takes on the 2017 Wimbledon Junior Boys champion, No. 346-ranked Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 19, of Spain while Schnur plays No. 243-ranked Andrea Collinari, 26, of Italy.

Shapo-mania at Queen’s Club

More than 40 years ago in London during Wimbledon young girls screamed and squealed at the sight of a blond, long-haired tennis player named Bjorn Borg from Sweden. It certainly harkened back to those days when 19-year-old Denis Shapovalov from Richmond Hill, Ont., made a surprise visit to ball-girls during the Queen’s Club tournament last week.

‘Sid the Kid’ with Maria

Sydney Crosby, arguably the best currently-active athlete in Canada, got a look at Centre Court Wimbledon this week with none other than 2004 champion Maria Sharapova acting as his tour guide.