Two British tennis stars are aiming to bring their memorable 2023 Wimbledon experience into the 2024 season.
George Loffhagen, 22, and Henry Searle, 17, both had their best season to date last year, with Loffhagen debuting at The Championships, whilst Searle won the Boys’ single title.
The pair met in a match for the first time at the start of the 2024 calendar, in the M25 Loughborough tournament, with the bout ending after Loffhagen retired with a hip injury.
Searle would get knocked out in the next round by Cannon Kingsley, but his first few ventures into senior tennis have been promising.
He said: “I had a good pre-season, and I have felt good.
“I am ready for this season; it is definitely a step up but I am ready for it and I am ready for what this year brings.”
Although he is still developing in the men’s game, Searle conquered the grass court in southwest London last year, beating four top-ten players to become the first British Boys’ champion in 61 years.
Looking back on 2023, he said: ”It was absolutely the best year of my life so far, I would say it was exciting and it was a great experience all round.”
At such a young age it is difficult to predict where Searle will be in 12 months, but continuing to develop in the senior game and playing in these tournaments across the world will only help him reach his potential.
Meanwhile, Loffhagen’s journey to play against eighth-seed Holger Rune at Wimbledon last year was far from a simple ride.
In 2021 the Londoner was pouring pints at a local pub in Marble Arch and returned his attention to studying again, potentially moving to Loughborough to complete his A-Levels.
His love for tennis, although at the time not as strong as it once was, meant he would continue to partake in his hobby, but he soon realised that his education was only going to get in the way.
He went back to playing ITF futures tournaments, which gave him the opportunity to become a main-draw wildcard.
Loffhagen said: “I wasn’t expecting to get it at all.
“It was a really good experience and sometimes you practice with those guys at that level, but to play them in an actual match is quite different, it was good to see him up close and in a different situation.
“It gives you a benchmark to where they are at and it is something to work towards, which is really helpful.
“I am definitely hungry for more.”
Although his maiden tournament of the year was curtailed due to injury, heading into 2024 Loffhagen hasn’t targeted a tournament but only wants self-improvement if he is to return to his home Grand Slam.
He said: “Obviously it would be nice to play it, but I am not really thinking about that too much yet, all I need to is to win games and improve my ranking.
“If I do get a wildcard that would be amazing but for now it is all about improvement.
“You can’t really control matches sometimes, so it is all about improving as much as I can, to try and get myself better.”
As he regretfully limped off the court at the Dan Maskell Tennis Centre at Loughborough University, against Henry Searle, the only people in attendance were coaches and other competitors.
He said: “Wimbledon probably had a better atmosphere than some of the other tournaments I have played in.”
It would be fair to say if the pair are able to return to Wimbledon this year, there will be a far bigger cheer waiting for two of Britain’s most promising men’s tennis stars.