British hopes in the Junior Championships at Wimbledon rest firmly on the shoulders of Arthur Fery and Matilda Mutavdzic, who have reached the 3rd round of the boys and girls singles respectively.
Fery dispatched American Cannon Kingsley, 6-4 6-4, on Tuesday, and faces Shintaro Mochizuki, the 8th seed from Japan, while Mutavdzic took out Russia’s Daria Frayman, 4-6 6-3 6-3 and next takes on the American Alexa Noel, who is seeded 10th, both for a place in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
James Story, however, battled hard but narrowly lost out in three sets to Illya Beloborodko from the Ukraine, 6-4 5-7 6-4.
In the boys’ competition, top seed Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune bull-dozed Eric Vanshelboim, 6-0 6-2, 10th seed Carlos Alcaraz Garfia steam-rolled Matheus Pucinelli De Almeida, 6-1 6-2, Nicolas Alvarez Varona took out 14th seed Shunsuke Mitsui, 6-2 6-3, and Dalibor Svrcina defeated 12th seed Liam Draxl, 7-6(3) 3-6 6-3.
Eight Americans advanced to to the 3rd round, with none as fortunate as Will Grant, the only player in either singles draw to get in as a lucky loser after losing in the final round of qualifying.
For Grant, an American who was born in London, holds a British passport and frequently travels to train with his Spanish coach in Barcelona, the result was a surprise.
He admitted that he had walked on the court expecting to lose.
“Honestly, going into the match, obviously you think you can win and you gotta be positive, but in the back of my mind I really didn’t feel I could win. He beat me pretty easily a few weeks ago.”
The grass court swing has been tough for the American, and although his success in doubles has kept him sane, a series of early losses put him in a bad place mentally.
When asked whether he enjoyed the surface, he laughed out loud.
“You should’ve asked me that two weeks ago! I would have definitely said no. After I lost in the qualies in Roehampton, it wasn’t pretty. I was really struggling on the grass.”
Grant persevered in part because of his work with a USTA mental coach after Roehampton and they worked on forming his routines and keeping himself in the moment.
The change in his attitude and performance has been swift. On Tuesday, he achieved one of the great moments in his junior career, defeating No 5 seed Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic, 6-4 7-6(6), to earn just his second win at the junior slam level.
“If you would have told me I would have been here, it’s like nah, it’s crazy,” said Grant, who lost in the first round at the Grade 1 in Nottingham and failed to qualify at Roehampton in the two previous grass court tournaments.
Grant also made good use of his challenges, with the Hawkeye system available on No 16 Court.
“I got one wrong, second game, it was way in, and I got three right towards the end, and it was pretty big points, and all were in,” Grant said. “After the first or second I got right, I could sort of tell that the ref wasn’t having a good day.”
Grant didn’t need any help from Hawkeye when he saved a set point with Lehecka serving for the second set at 6-5.
Lehecka had come back from 0-40 down, taking four straight points, but Grant connected with a nifty cross court passing shot to save it and 2 consecutive Lehecka backhand errors sent the set to a tiebreaker.
The Czech led 5-4 and had 2 serves, but his backhand again let him down and Grant found himself serving at 6-5.
Lehecka connected on a forehand winner to save the first match point, but he hit another errant backhand to give Grant a second chance, then double faulted to end the match.
“Honestly, in that second set, I got lucky,” said Grant. “I probably should still be out there in the third, but it just went my way today, and I’m really proud.”
Grant will play No. 10 seed Alcaraz Garfia, one of three Spanish boys remaining in the draw.
America’s No 4 seed Martin Damm defeated qualifier Ryoma Matsushita of Japan, 6-4 6-4, and will face Taha Baadi of Canada on Wednesday.
No 6 seed Brandon Nakashima is the third American boy in the round of 16, after he defeated Nicholas David Ionel of Romania, 7-6(4) 6-2, and now takes on No 17 seed Harold Mayot of France in the only boys third round match featuring two seeds.
“I thought he came out playing pretty well in the first set,” said the 17-year-old Nakashima, who completed his first semester of college at the University of Virginia before returning this summer to the ITF Junior Circuit for the French Open.
“I just tried to stay consistent with him, stay patient and wait for my moment. Luckily I closed it out in a tight first set and then got a little confidence, started playing a little better in the second, got some more returns in play and started serving a lot better.”
Perth teenager Tristan Schoolkate stormed into the third round of the Wimbledon boys’ singles with a 6-3 6-4 win over Switzerland’s Dominic Stephan Stricker in another impressive display after winning his first-round match against No 7 seed Toby Kodat, of the US, 6-0 7-5.
The 18-year-old continues a rich vein of form on the European circuit in recent months which has carried him to an ITF junior ranking of 44.
Romanian Filip Jianu spoke matter-of-factly as he discussed his success, his past and future after a tough 7-6(7) 6-2 win over Flavio Cobolli of Italy.
Like many of the players in the Wimbledon draw, 2019 marks Jianu’s final year as a junior before he steps into the wide world of professional tennis.
After rounding the circuit in 2018, he feels more comfortable at the slams this time, but his success at pro level, winning his first futures title in Tunisia in May, has also assured him that the future is bright.
“I knew and a lot of people told me before I got into the futures level that the top juniors have a good level and have a pretty good chance of winning futures,” he said
“So, when that finally happened in Tunisia, I was obviously super happy because I worked hard for it. And hopefully I can win a couple more and then just build up my level and go to bigger tournaments.
Jianu started playing tennis at six in kinder-garden, and until 14 he was also one of the most gifted swimmers of his age group.
Just three years ago, he made the decision to pursue tennis and is navigating his career well.
“I wouldn’t say I loved swimming – I had to get into the water at 7 in the morning. I hated that!” he said, laughing.
“Tennis I loved a lot more because I would play with someone, there would be a couple more kids on the other courts, swimming was just me.”
In boys doubles, the wild card team of Jacob Fearnley & Connor Thomson from Great Britain beat the No 8 seeds, Sergey Fomin of Uzbekistan & Gauthier Onclin of Belgium, 6-2 6-4, while Nakashima & Valentin Royer of France took out the No 4 pair of Pucinelli de Almeida & Argentina’s Thiago Tirante, 6-3 6-2, in first round action on Tuesday.