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Camden New Journal - by STEVE BARNETT
Published: 5 June 2008
James Ward's bid for stardom is in the balance as he seeks financial support
James Ward’s bid for stardom is in the balance as he seeks financial support
James courts a backer to fulfil Wimbledon dream

Tennis ace seeks funding help as he soars up rankings

ONE of the country’s top-flight tennis prospects may be forced to quit the game – despite being just weeks away from a possible dream debut at Wimbledon.
James Ward, who lives in Eversholt Street in Euston, has enjoyed a phenomenal year, climbing to eighth place in the British rankings. And the towering 21-year-old returns to the court this weekend when he competes in vital qualifiers at Queen’s where, if he is successful, he will almost certainly be rewarded with a place among the elite at Wimbledon.
But James’ surge up the professional rankings masks an emotional battle that has left the son of a black cab driver fearing for his career.
Just over 18 months ago James’s world was turned upside down when his dad Jim developed a brain tumour. Thankfully Jim has now recovered, but having been unable to work for long periods he is no longer able to offer his son the financial support that he used to.
Facing up to the realisation that he could be forced to abandon the game he loves, James revealed the heartache hindering his hopes: “My parents have always supported me financially, but I can’t keep going back to my dad and asking for money. After what’s happened in the past year and a half I don’t want to put any more pressure on him.
“If I could get a job and cover the costs on my own I would, but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. To be a professional sportsman you have to put in the effort. I train for more than five hours a day, seven days a week so that I can be at my best when I go out on court. It’s frighteningly simple – I have to find sponsorship or my dream is over.”
He originally started playing at 11 years old, and would often be found at the Islington Tennis Centre in Market Road. Among his early highlights was reaching the semi-finals of the Under-15s national championships.
But the defining moment in his career so far came a year later when his entire family relocated to Spain so that he could join the Juan Carlos Ferrero Academy.
“I owe my family everything. They gave up their work, friends and family to give me the best possible chance of making it as a professional tennis player.
“I want to repay them by making it to the very top of the sport and winning major tournaments. Although it’s an added pressure, the only thing affecting my game at the moment is the financial strain.
“I don’t know how long I can afford to keep playing, and I take that baggage with me every time I step on to the court.
“If someone could help to relieve that burden it would make a huge difference and I know my performances would improve.”
There is little doubt that James is good enough to compete with the very best, a point he regularly proves when he trains with former number one seed Ferrero.
“Carlos has become a very close friend. I’m really grateful for the help that both he and his coach Antonio Martinez Cascales have given me.”
Having watched him train, it’s clear that the sport would be losing a promising talent if James is allowed to walk away from the game.
Anyone interested in sponsoring James should contact manager Keith Gilbert on 07973 117 427 or email

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