Henry Searle

Henry Searle shocks top seed at Junior Wimbledon

Henry Searle used the power of self-belief and his grass court progression to pull off the biggest shock of Junior Wimbledon so far.

Searle, currently ranked 25th in the ITF junior rankings, was handed a tough draw against Juan Carlos Prado Ángelo, the Bolivian top seed at SW19.

The 17-year-old from Wolverhampton, who trains at the LTA’s National Academy in Loughborough, rallied to win a tight opening set against Ángelo, who was runner-up at the Junior French Open last month.

And he needed just one break in the second set to put him on the path to victory, calmly serving out the contest to prevail 7-6(6) 6-3 on Court 4.

It was a first win at the All England Club for Searle, who made his debut last year, and he believed that experience of playing on grass courts worked in his favour against an opponent with less matchplay on the surface.

“I think every match, as the tournament is so strong, you’ve got to perform as well as possible,” he said.

“Playing a few weeks on the grass beforehand, which maybe the other players don’t do as often, that was definitely a confidence booster for the match today. 

“It’s pretty surreal to get my first Wimbledon win against the No.1 seed in front of quite a few people. It was nice to be in front of the home crowd, I enjoyed it a lot.

“I had a pretty tough draw last year as well, playing the second seed, and I definitely took a lot of experience away from it. I used it to my advantage and I used it as best as possible to help me.

“It’s pretty amazing to always have the home crowd always backing you, always feeling supported on court no matter what the score is. I used that to my advantage today and managed to get the win.

“It’s always been a dream to play at Wimbledon, and just to get the win was amazing.”

It is not the first time Searle has thrived at a Grand Slam, having reached the last eight of the boys’ singles at the French Open in June – where he was defeated by eventual champion Dino Prižmić.

And it is perhaps that greater level of Slam experience that worked to his advantage in a contest that, while ultimately a straight sets win, could have ended very differently.

The 17-year-old was 4-1 down in the opening set and, as he closed in on victory, was forced to save a barrage of break points late on – though he never found himself fazed by the occasion.

He added: “It was a pretty tense first five games. I actually felt quite good in terms of how I was moving, but the ball striking wasn’t quite there the first few games. I managed to turn it around and the crowd definitely helped, then momentum was going in my favour.

“I think there’s a lot of self-belief and confidence that I can trust my game and trust my shots. I was just believing in myself and having confidence that my shots will win me the points in the end.” 

For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website

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