Roehampton | Jack Draper wins a second title in a row
Britain’s Jack Draper made it two in a row by winning the ITF event in Roehampton after lifting the trophy at $15,000 Futures event at Nottingham, his maiden title.
It was good to finish juniors on a high, but I think now I've proved that I can play at a high level at the pro circuit events. I moved on and it was definitely the right decision. Jack Draper
The teenager became the first British male since Andy Murray to win a pro tournament at the age of 16 and, on Monday morning’s rankings, was the only player of his age to be ranked in the top 1,000, comfortably so at 784.
That puts him at No 20 in the country among the 59 Brits currently on the ATP rankings, and he will likely move even higher once the points from Roehampton are added to his tally.
Unseeded at Roehampton, Draper drew fellow Briton Tiran Sanghera in the first round, and found him a challenge, eventually breaking serve when it looked to be heading to a tiebreak.
The young Brit had less trouble in the second as Draper dominated Sanghera and eased into the second round, 7-5 6-2.
In the second round, Draper was up against Baptiste Crepatte, the top seed.
The Frenchman managed to break the serve of the young Brit and took the first set, but Draper fought back in the second set and pulled the match level after breaking the serve of the top seed.
The final set saw the top seed fight hard, but it was Draper who got the vital break of serve, moving into the quarter-final, 4-6 6-4 6-4.
There he was up against the 7th seeded Finn Bass and, in another battle of the Brits, it was Draper that struck first, breaking to take the opening set and then again to book a spot in the semi-final, 6-3 6-4.
In the semis Draper was taking on yet another Brit, Mark Whitehouse, who was also unseeded had progressed through to the last four.
Draper completely dominated the first set, barely giving Whitehouse a chance to get settled and while the second set was a little more competitive, Draper eased through to his second final in succession in straight sets, 6-1 6-3.
The final saw Draper against Sweden’s Filip Bergevi, who was looking for his first ITF title at the age of 24.
The young Brit continued his form of the previous rounds and soon broke serve, strolling through the second to his second title, 6-3 6-2.
Draper decided to stop playing junior events after Wimbledon
Speaking at the National Tennis Centre after beating Crepatte, the top seed, in Roehampton on Wednesday, he told a small group of reporters: “It was good to finish juniors on a high, but I think now I’ve proved that I can play at a high level at the pro circuit events. I moved on and it was definitely the right decision.”
On cracking the world’s top 1,000, he added: “I’m happy but at the same time once you achieve that you have got to try and push on and be hungry for more because I want to be more than that.”
Draper’s tennis education began as a three year old growing up in Surrey.
The son of former LTA Chief Executive Roger Draper, Draper is blessed with a rich pedigree, but it was actually through his mother Nicky, a British junior champion herself and a coach, that he was introduced to the sport.
“She used to coach at Sutton [junior tennis academy],” he said. “She couldn’t leave me in the house when I was younger so I would go and hit on the practice court where she could see me when she was coaching. That’s how I started hitting balls.”
Draper attributes much of his development since to learning from his 19-year-old brother Ben, who reached the junior Wimbledon second round in 2016 and now plays at the University of California in Berkeley.
His unusual talent, which has developed into a strong all round southpaw game with smart point construction, was soon evident.
Draper, who is polite and confident, went to Reed’s School in Cobham but aged 14 continued his studies through tutoring.
“I probably decided what I wanted to do when I was about 11. I like the individual aspect of it and I enjoy it. I was working really hard up until about May, and then did GCSEs, waited for results for two months. They came in just after Wimbledon and I got five GCSEs.
“I’m done with school now, because it’s really tough to juggle them together. I want to be a tennis player so I’m going to go all in.”
To help him achieve his goal, Draper receives LTA funding and is guided by an elite support team.
His main coach is British No 1 Kyle Edmund’s former mentor Ryan Jones, while Steve Kotze, who previously worked with Murray and Eugenie Bouchard, looks after his strength and conditioning.
Draper already stands at 6ft 2in, and estimates he will grow another inch.
After a week off, he will play back-to-back events in Nigeria.
“I just want to try and get my ranking up and see where I am,” he said. “Six months ago would I have said I’d be in this position? No way.”