Wimbledon: Karola Bejenaru is ready to seize moment and live SW19 dream
Karola Bejenaru is one win away from fulfilling her dream of playing at Wimbledon after coming through her first round qualifying match at the junior tournament in the less iconic surroundings of Roehampton yesterday.
The Romanian-born Windsor player defeated Great Britain's Holly Hutchinson 7-6, 6-3 to earn a meeting with Slovakian, Viktoria Kuzmova today.
Her opponent is ranked 150 at Under-18 level while Bejenaru is 103 on the list but the 17-year old from east Belfast won't bear the favourite's tag today.
Kuzmova's ranking is not a realistic barometer of her ability as she has spent most of the last few months competing on the professional circuit which has therefore resulted in a slump in her junior rating.
She can boast two $10,000 tournament triumphs in Turkey and Greece in recent months and an impressive win-loss record of 24-8 on the pro tour this season.
Her achievements have seen her climb up the professional rankings to a very respectable 493.
At just 17-years-old she is seen as one of the leading prospects in her country.
So, realistically, the odds are stacked against Bejenaru today.
But Karola is determined to give it her best shot and achieve her ambition after losing in first round qualifying for Junior Wimbledon last summer.
"Rankings mean very little to be honest at this level and it's about how you perform on any given day and how you deal with the threat in front of you," she said.
"So I won't be thinking about my opponent or her achievements and I will be concentrating on my own game and winning this very important match.
"It's important that I play to the best of my ability to give myself the best chance to beat opponents and taste success.
"It would undoubtedly be the highlight of my career so far if I could make it into the first round and play at Wimbledon itself.
"I have been there once before but not during the tournament so it would be great to qualify for the main draw and experience the special atmosphere. That would be an incredible feeling."
Bejenaru, whose father Leonard is acting as her mentor in London this week, says yesterday's contest was ideal preparation for today's clash.
"It was a tough match as I had expected and she had a very big serve so there wasn't much in it in the first set until it went to the tie-break which, fortunately, I was able to win." she added.
"The second set was pretty close as well but I managed to break her serve pretty early on and close out the win so I was happy with that and I played a good match."