Luke Henley, a regular in the Shropshire county side, was pleased to line up in the $25,000 Budgen Motors GB Pro-Series for the first time when the men’s tournament got underway at The Shrewsbury Club yesterday.
Watched by a host of family and friends, Henley lined up on the indoor courts in the first qualifying round of the International Tennis Federation event.
But his hopes of progressing in the prestigious tournament were dashed as he was beaten 6-3, 6-0 by Nottingham’s Jamie Praditngam.
The result may not have been what he wanted, but Henley, 23, a member at The Shrewsbury Club who also works at the Sundorne Road venue, insisted he enjoyed the experience.
“It was brilliant to play here at my home club,” said Henley. “The tournament’s been here many years, but that was actually the first time I’ve got to play it, which was a great experience.
“Having been a member here for four years and worked here for the last 18 months as well, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for some time.
“It was a great experience to play in front of people I know and it was good fun out there.”
Shrewsbury-born Henley, who now lives in Bobbington, near Bridgnorth, added: “I thought I could have been a bit more consistent and maybe could have competed a bit better, but I was certainly happy with some of the tennis I played. I would just like to play a bit more at this level.
“I was up against a very good player. He was consistent, managed to play close to the baseline and at a good tempo, so I couldn’t fault him.”
Qualifying will continue at The Shrewsbury Club today (Monday) from 10.30am, with the first round matches for the main draw, which starts on Tuesday morning, to be announced during a civic reception at the Shrewsbury headquarters of event sponsors Budgen Motors tonight.
There is strong British interest in the tournament with Marcus Willis and Ed Corrie, both former finalists at The Shrewsbury Club, among the entrants.
James Ward, who was part of the 2015 winning British Davis Cup team, will also be taking part after being given a wildcard as he returns from injury.
Admission is free for spectators to enjoy the action at The Shrewsbury Club throughout the week, including to next Saturday afternoon’s singles final.