Henry Searle roared his way into SW19 folklore, outgunning Yaroslav Demin to end a 61-year-wait for a British boys’ singles champion at Wimbledon.
Wolverhampton teenager Searle, who trains at the LTA’s National Academy at Loughborough University, had progressed in extraordinary fashion, beating three seeded players to reach the final, the first Brit to do so since Jack Draper in 2018.
It was a run that captured attention from outside the tennis world, receiving a good luck message from Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui after winning his semi-final encounter on Saturday.
With friends, all wearing t-shirts emblazoned with ‘Henry’s Barmy Army’, supporting him on Court 1, he never once looked fazed by the task at hand.
A break in each set was all he needed to fend off the fifth seed, arms aloft after triumphing 6-4 6-4.
“I’ll definitely try to enjoy the moment over the next few days and few weeks, then I think I’ll get back to it and try to win some more titles,” said Searle, 17.
“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.
“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.”
Not since 1962 had Britain had a champion in this event, with Stanley Matthews Jr the champion on that occasion.
Matthews was the son of the ‘Wizard of Dribble’ but Searle did not need any magic to win this match; a simple formula consisting of a booming serve and equally impressive groundstrokes getting the job done.
Searle added: “My serve, it’s a crucial part in my game, being quite a big build, a tall build. It definitely won me a lot of my matches this week.
“I’ve been working really hard the past couple of years with my coaching team. It’s starting to pay off a little bit.
“I had quite a big growth spurt in lockdown, it wasn’t really too much of a weapon before that. It took a while to get used to the longer limbs and the coordination – but it seems to be okay now.”
Searle, who is yet to decide whether he will play the US Open junior event, is trained by Morgan Phillips in Loughborough.
Phillips has worked with the teenager for less than a year, but believed heading into the tournament that his charge could deliver on the big stage.
“I never had a doubt about his ability, what we saw at the French Open was very strong,” he commented.
“I think that gave us a lot of confidence, but it was about getting him to peak for this tournament. We seem to have got it right – full credit to him.
“It’s not just the final, it’s the whole week really. It’s pretty special how much composure he had, embraced every situation and embraced the crowd. He obviously likes the big stage.”
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