RISING tennis star Toby Samuel says reaching the semi-finals of the Junior Wimbledon Championships has given him the confidence he can “compete at the highest level”.

Bournemouth Collegiate School’s Samuel, 16, made it to the last four of the boys’ doubles with partner Arthur Fery, before losing to seventh seeds Liam Draxl and Govind Nanda.

And Samuel admits his run at the event has given him a big boost.

He said: “Playing at Wimbledon has allowed me to compete against some of the best players in the world and I can see areas in my game now that I can improve on for the future.

“If I want to win more at that level I know what I have to do now and I want to come back to Wimbledon next year having made those changes and progress even further.

“Playing there has also given me the confidence that I can compete at the highest level and it’s great to know that I can cope playing on a big stage.

“I’m hoping it may also open up more opportunities for me in the upcoming years as I look to transition from the junior tour to one day reach my goal to be a top 100 ATP player.”

As well as picking up three wins in the doubles event, Samuel also competed in the boys’ singles, losing out in a tight first round clash 7-5, 7-6 to number 13 seed Filip Cristian Jianu of Romania.

And Samuel, who first began playing tennis at St Leonards & St Ives and West Hants Club, was thrilled to get the chance to compete at the iconic SW19 venue.

He said: “It meant everything to me, it’s kind of what you always dream about.

“I knew I had a chance of getting a wildcard this year but we didn’t find out until two days beforehand.

“When I found out I’d been given the opportunity to play in the main draw, I was just so excited to go out there and give it my best.

“I was definitely nervous when I first stepped onto the court. I’ve never played in front of a crowd anything like that or had TV cameras on me and I knew what it meant to my family too, who’ve supported me my whole life to get there.

“Once the match got going I managed to really enjoy the experience.”