Searle ends 61-year wait for British boys’ champion

Searle ends 61-year wait for British boys' champion

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Henry Searle celebrates at Wimbledon
Henry Searle’s previous best result at a Grand Slam was reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open
Venue: All England Club Dates: 3-16 July
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app. More coverage details here.

Henry Searle ended Britain’s 61-year wait for a boys’ singles champion at Wimbledon with a dominant victory over Russian Yaroslav Demin.

The unseeded 17-year-old won 6-4 6-4 in front of a buoyant Court One crowd.

Searle raised his arms towards his box when he sealed the trophy after Demin sent a forehand long.

The last British boys’ champion here was Stanley Matthews – son and namesake of the former Blackpool and England footballer – in 1962.

A large contingent of supporters sporting T-shirts printed with ‘Henry’s Barmy Army’ sat in the stands, chanting and jumping to their feet with every point Searle won.

They have followed his progress throughout the tournament, creating a raucous atmosphere at all of his matches and that was no different as Searle took to one of the All England Club’s show courts.

Wolverhampton-born Searle, an avid Wolves fan, also received a message from the football club’s manager Julien Lopetegui in the build-up to his final and the youngster said it was “pretty cool” to have his successes recognised in that way.

Roared on by the support of his family and friends in the crowd, Searle was fired up from the beginning and needed just one break of serve in the opening set to get off the mark.

The teenager has not dropped a set this tournament and that did not look like changing as he broke in the first game of the second set with a huge forehand.

From there it was plain sailing as Searle brought up three match points, sealing victory on the second one when he pumped a powerful serve which fifth seed Demin could only net.

The context of the victory and significance to British tennis makes for impressive reading.

Searle is only the 12th British boy to win a boys’ Grand Slam title and the first since Oliver Golding won the US Open in 2011. He is the first Briton to win a junior Wimbledon title since Laura Robson in 2008 and, most impressively, the first boy to lift the trophy in more than half a century.

He entered the tournament at number 27 in the junior rankings but will leave comfortably inside the top 10 after his best result at a Grand Slam, having previously reached the last eight at the French Open.

Searle took time to sign tennis balls and autographs and took pictures with young fans before he left the court, saying he would “do his best” to continue working hard and perhaps one day replicate the success on an even bigger stage.

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