Posted: Mon 5th Jul 2021

The Flintshire tennis coach helping British teenager Emma Raducanu with remarkable Wimbledon run

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jul 5th, 2021

Teenage tennis sensation Emma Raducanu made history on Saturday by becoming the youngest British woman in the Open Era to make the Round of 16 at Wimbledon.

Making her debut on No.1 court, the 18-year-old defeated Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 7-5 to book a spot in today’s fourth round where she will face Ajla Tomljanovic.

Tennis coach Matt James from Flintshire is at Wimbledon with the teenager helping to guide her through the tournament.

James worked with Raducanu for two years before taking up a role at Lawn Tennis Association’s National Tennis Centre.

He is assisting alongside her current coach Nigel Sears.

“You could tell straight away that she’s pretty special,” James told the PA news agency. “The mindset and the maturity on the match court you don’t see very often, I hadn’t seen at all really. So that was quite exciting.

“You knew she could handle the big occasions and it’s just a case of making those big improvements on the court to back it up.

“Obviously she’s a really bright girl and you can tell she’s so determined to excel in everything she does. It’s no surprise that she’s really good academically.

“When we were at Bromley [Tennis Centre], we were playing tennis in between her school sessions, whereas a lot of players her level would have stopped the education after GCSEs. But she’s really gritty and determined to do both very well, so credit to her.”

Emma Raducanu walks to the practice courts [Matt James behind in white] ahead of her match against Sorana Cirstea (ROU) at The Championships 2021. AELTC/David Gray

As a junior player, James, a former Ysgol Maes Garmon pupil worked his way into the ranks of the world top 100 young players and turned professional.

He made a number of junior matches at Wimbledon when he was 16 and 17 – but two hip operations by the time he was 21 put paid to a career as a professional player.

James is temporarily back as part of Raducanu’s team, speaking to BBC Radio Wales this morning, he was asked about her remarkable run at Wimbledon, he said:

“What a time to be involved in tennis, for her to keep winning matches and to be involved again and get to watch her, it’s really exciting to be here.”

“It does feel like she’s been almost practising for the last few years for this moment so it doesn’t feel like too much of a surprise.”

“Her tennis has been tracking for the last few years she’s been one of the top girls in the world, even from sort of 13 and 14, so the tennis actually doesn’t surprise me too much.”

“She’s so level headed on the big stage is probably the biggest surprise.”

He said Raducanu hasn’t played as many competitions as the the other girls in the last few years, “so she is a bit of an unknown to a lot of the of media and the players, but within kind of British tennis we’ve known this girl for for a few years.”

James said: “What she can produce, the fact now that she’s finished her exams and looking for the tennis career, she’s only really just starting, it’s probably happened a little earlier than we were expecting but it’s not as much of a shock to the people have seen her.”

Next up for the 18-year-old is 28 year old Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.

[Feature image Matt James / Twitter]

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