Alastair Gray could not have imagined a worse start to his Wimbledon debut but after branding issues and a double fault he quickly found his groove on the way to a comprehensive straight sets victory.
Twickenham’s Gray was hugely impressive on his singles bow, beating former junior champion Tseng Chun-hsin 6-3 6-3 7-6 (3).
And yet the start of the match could hardly have gone any worse for the 24-year-old.
“I’m very happy with how I played. I’m more happy about how I dealt with the occasion,” said Gray, who is a member of the LTA’s Men’s & Women’s Programme, through which the governing body provides a range of support to players with the potential to progress towards competing in Grand Slams and representing Great Britain in Davis or Billie Jean King Cup matches.
“First match at Wimbledon, there’s a lot of pressure, a lot of things going on, a lot of tension. I thought I handled everything very well.
“There was some silly stuff at the beginning of the match. I didn’t have the right bottles, I had to change the bottles. My hat logo was too big, so I had to change my hat. I double-faulted on the first point. It was all going wrong at the beginning, but I managed to deal with it well.”
Gray might be the least-heralded of the nine Brits through Round 2 at the All England Club – the best showing for home players since 1997.
And he is particularly close with a couple of those to have joined him in the last 64, future housemate Ryan Peniston and former school friend Jack Draper.
As well as a house, Gray and Peniston share a coach, Mark Taylor, with this new breed of British player clearly revelling in the opportunity at Wimbledon, rather than worrying about the ramifications of defeat.
“I think we’re all spurring each other on,” he said.
“Them doing well creates belief in the other Brits that they can do it, too. We’re all just pushing each other higher and higher right now. It’s so great to see.
“I think it’s kind of how you approach the match, isn’t it? You don’t want to lose or you want to win. I think we’re all just hungry to win. I think that’s because we have some good people supporting us in the LTA, Mark Taylor, mine and Peniston’s coach.
“The number one goal for us was to go out and enjoy the experience, to just get our game out on the court, see what happens.”
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