When Mahak Jain won the girls title in the Road to Wimbledon UK under-14 tennis championship on the grass courts of Wimbledon in 2015, Emma Raducanu had given a hint of her future by winning a doubles quarterfinal against the Indian 6-2, 6-0.
Emma was about 12 then, and had partnered Andre Lukosiute while beating Mahak and her British partner Mathilde Sreeves, getting a feel of international tennis at home.
Queried about Indian players dominating the tournament, the British coach Dan Bloxham had mentioned then that the English players were ‘’working doubly hard’’.
A Grand Slam nation has a great system to hone talent, and the British were in no hurry to make an early impact, but were keen to get the foundation right for a bright future.
The 18-year-old Emma has taken the quickest steps, as a qualifier ranked 150, to a Grand Slam title in New York. Her best title before this was the $25,000 tournament she won in Pune in December 2019.
Earlier in January 2018, Emma had won the ITF grade-3 junior tournament in Chandigarh, and followed that with the grade-2 title in Delhi.
Vaidehi Chaudhari had a good match against Emma on court No.6 at the DLTA, but retired at 4-6, 2-4 owing to a sprained ankle. That injury kept Vaidehi away from the Australian Open junior event that year.
“I remember Emma being very energetic and getting every ball back. She was very quick on court. I feel very proud to have played a good match against her,” recalled Vaidehi, who trains with coach Jignesh Raval in Ahmedabad.
“Emma was on a mission then. She was winning a series of junior titles at that time. She was on fire,” recalled coach Jignesh.
Conceding that Emma’s incredible success has lent a lot of clarity to the right approach, Jignesh said that he would make a series of videos to educate the players and parents about, ‘’what to do, and what not to do’’.
Going back to the Road to Wimbledon venture, the late Paul Hutchins, the Tournament Director had remarked, “if we can contribute a little bit for the growth of tennis, we will be happy’’.
In its big-hearted approach to help world tennis through the Wimbledon Foundation, British tennis has only strengthened its roots, with committed coaches and trainers honing talent in the best possible way.
If Emma’s effortless serve, energetic approach to every point and the hearty smile is any hint, the British have made an immense contribution to world tennis.
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