It was a historic Sunday for Henry Searle as the 17 year-old from Wolves secured Wimbledon history by winning the Boys singles title. Searle is the first British player to win the title for 62 years since Stanley Matthews Jnr after a 6-4 6-4 win over fifth seed Yaroslav Demin.
It was an incredible run for the Brit that started by beating top seed Juan Carlos Prado Angelo and since then Searle went from strength to strength as the Brit knocked out four seeds and didn’t drop a set throughout the entire tournament.
After the match Searle described the win as ‘amazing’ and spoke about his bullet serve after hitting a 134 MPH serve during the final.
“Yeah, it’s a pretty amazing feeling,” Searle calmly said during his press conference.
“I’ll definitely try to enjoy the moment over the next few days and few weeks, then I think get back to it and try to win some more titles. Yeah, it’s a crucial, crucial part in my game, being quite a big build, a tall build. It definitely won me a lot of my matches this week.
“Been working really hard the past couple of years with my coaching team. It’s starting to pay off a little bit. had quite a big growth spurt in lockdown. It wasn’t really too much of a weapon before that. Took a while to get used to the longer limbs and the uncoordination. But it seems to be okay now.”
Searle also admitted there was some nerves heading into the match and spoke about what his expectations were heading into the tournament.
“There were obviously a few nerves flying about before the match, which is to be expected playing on such a prestigious court at such a prestigious tournament,” Searle stated.
“Yeah, I let it sink in in the warm-up a little bit, then tried to focus on the match and myself after that. I definitely came into the tournament with a little bit of confidence from the French Open and tournaments leading up into this. I didn’t really come into the tournament with too much of an outcome goal sort of thing.
“I tried just to beat whoever my opponent was each match and see where that took me. It ended up being pretty special.”
A special win for a special player as now Searle looks to dream big and slowly transition onto the main circuit. Speaking after his win Searle acknowledged that he’s hoping to make the next step to the main circuit a bit quicker and didn’t know whether he would play the US Open Juniors event.
“Yeah, I think there’s the jump to the men’s game that needs to be done a little bit quicker. Hopefully that can happen now,” Searle said.
“Yeah, I’ll try to continue to work hard to try and be playing at that sort of level in the men’s, as well, in the future. I’m not too sure yet. There’s a few tournaments before that. I’ll just focus on the next tournament rather than thinking too far ahead.”
Meanwhile in the other Juniors final involving Brits, there was a straight sets defeat for Hannah Klugman and Isabelle Lacy as they lost to Alena Kovackova and Laura Samsonova in the Girls doubles final.
The all-British duo made a mini second set comeback from 5-1 down before losing 6-4 7-5 to the Czech Republican pairing.
Hewett regains doubles title but suffers singles heartbreak
Onto the Wheelchair finals and Alfie Hewett was looking for a successful weekend as he had vengeance on his mind. Hewett both lost finals last year and was eager to find some success this year at Wimbledon and first up for Hewett was the doubles final alongside Gordon Reid.
The British duo took on Japanese pairing Takuya Miki and Tokito Oda on No.1 Court on Saturday. It was a poor start from Hewett and Reid as they lost the first set 6-3 as their Japanese opponents were far more aggressive.
However the Brits were not to be denied as they triumphed in the next two sets 6-0 6-3 and regained their Wimbledon crown in a two hour epic. Speaking after the match Reid admitted the sport has come along way as they appreciated the atmosphere on No.1 Court.
“I think not only that, but the amount of people that were there. I think we kind of said it earlier in the week, we played on show courts elsewhere. Not here so much,” Reid explained.
“But elsewhere, other slams, you’re on the court, but there’s nobody there. You don’t really get the full experience. Pretty sure today was the full experience. I don’t think you can get much better than that.
“I think it shows how far the sport’s come. Even yesterday, the women’s semifinals, there was no British interest in the wheelchair singles, there was a great crowd there for that, as well. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.”
Meanwhile Hewett said visibility of Wheelchair tennis and an improvement in facilities is the next step even if the game is improving with each year.
“Well, I think we’re doing the first step, which is putting it out there, getting it visible, getting it on the BBC on the iPlayer, wherever possible, for people to see, to watch,” Hewett acknowledged.
“I know there will be a lot of people out there that would never have heard of wheelchair tennis. They may have stuck on BBC Two today and seen us play and go, Hang on a minute. It does exist. The sport does actually exist. What can I do now? Where can you go?
“Then it’s about having enough facilities and having as many communities be able to host wheelchair sessions and invite players to come along and play, try to support the grassroots players as much as possible. Things like getting a chair, a racquet. They’re not cheap bits of equipment. Just providing more of them. Up-skilling coaches so that it’s okay to coach wheelchair tennis if you’ve never coached it before. That’s a big part of it.
“I’ve had some experiences where players will go to centers, and the coach doesn’t know wheelchair tennis, won’t take them on. Just trying to change that culture, that way of thinking as well. We are going in the right direction. It’s events, matches, and days like this that can really be a groundbreaking breakthrough.”
The change Hewett and Reid are making in terms of increasing the popularity and visibility for Wheelchair tennis is huge and groundbreaking as they look to continue to achieve more on-court and off-court success in the sport. After his doubles triumph, it was about finally winning the singles title for Hewett as he took on Oda for the title on Sunday.
Hewett had never won the singles title at Wimbledon and made a positive start when he gained the early break in the opening set.
However Hewett was outclassed by the 17 year-old and world number one as the Japanese player turned on the style to outpower the Brit 6-4 6-2 as Hewett’s wait for the Wimbledon singles title goes on.
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