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Anastasia Mikheeva can't stop gleaming over Wimbledon junior singles wild card

ANASTASIA Mikheeva's main risk of sustaining a pre-Wimbledon injury is from smiling too much at simply being here.

The 15-year-old from Edinburgh can barely contain her excitement about being handed a wild card into the girls' singles competition at SW19 to be the baby of a four-strong teenage invasion force from Scotland which also includes Glaswegians Maia Lumsden and Anna Brogan, and Isabelle Wallace, of Inverness.

With Wallace's match yesterday postponed due to the rain, the efforts of this new wave of Scottish women's tennis promises to be a diverting sideshow to the second week.

As talented as the girls are, it would be wise not to get too carried away, for the Scots face some serious opposition. Lumsden, who now trains out in Amsterdam, and Brogan, who qualified by right, face the No 2 and No 3 seeds in the competition respectively.

And Mikheeva, her confidence bolstered by some grass court wins at Roehampton last week, faces Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, a 17-year-old who won the entire tournament.

Attempting to upset the odds will hold little novelty for Mikheeva - the daughter of Russian parents who moved to Scotland before she was born - who has been winning matches at Under-18 level since the age of 13.

"The wild card is an honour, for sure," said Marcel du Coudray, her South African coach. "And she feels like it is - she says she is so excited that her cheeks are constantly sore from smiling so much. Her goal is to see how she gets on this year, then to qualify on merit next year."

All four of the girls have been given a guided tour of the grounds by Judy Murray, who hopes some time acclimatising to the surroundings will prevent them getting spooked on the big occasion. Finding practice time yesterday, amid the showers, was rather more challenging.

"It all helps," said Du Coudray. "We had her back down on the grounds again today, although it was hard to get much done on the practice courts due to the rain.

"It is a Grand Slam, so everyone is very good, and it will be tough, but upsets to higher ranked players can happen; it is about what level you can perform to on the day.

"I have been coaching Anastasia for five years and the mentality she and the family have is very strong. She is a very pleasant young lady, but on the court she is serious, she works hard. Those characteristics bode well for the future. But it is a long journey."

Stewart Fisher

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