Britain’s next tennis sensation: Jack Draper

By Toby Oliver

2018 has been an outstanding year for 16-year-old Jack Draper as he won his first professional titles, got to the final of junior Wimbledon and became the youngest member of the world’s top 500.

Having started the season without a world ranking, Draper had some opportunities in British Challenger events thanks to wildcards. He played a qualifying round in Loughborough and the first round of the main draw at Ilkley. Despite losing on both occasions, this provided him with great experience to take forward into a very successful few months.

He received some media exposure at Wimbledon because he had an excellent run to the final of the junior event, where he lost to the top seed in a tight match. In the semi-final, he won a four-hour epic over Colombian Nicolas Mejia, winning 19-17 in the third set. If he had won the title, he would have been the first British champion in the boy’s singles since 1962. After the match, he told BBC Sport: “I can’t feel my legs. Apart from that, I’m overwhelmed by all. I was happy with the way I sort of came through it.”

Draper used the experience to help him win his first future’s title in Nottingham over an experienced field. This began an excellent run of wins for the 16-year-old as he won his second title the week after in Roehampton which moved him into the top 1000. He had a very impressive win in the second round of that tournament, against Baptiste Crepatte who’s ranked in the top 500.

However, he didn’t stop there as he followed this up with a couple of very successful tournaments in Nigeria. In the first event he competed in, he reached the semi-final where he lost to talented Frenchman Tom Jomby. However, the week after they met in the final of another event where Draper got the better of him. This fantastic result catapulted Draper into the world’s top 500, an outstanding achievement for the 16-year-old.

If the young Brit can continue this form next season, he should be competing in more Challenger events and perhaps hoping for Wimbledon wildcard.

Edited by Harry Trend

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