When it comes to the British men’s game, there is no question that Andy Murray rules the roost. Recently though, concerns have surfaced with regards to finding the successor to Britain’s tennis throne.
Promising 21-year-old Briton & world No. 40, Kyle Edmund, gave a valiant performance at the ATP European Open in Antwerp earlier in October, but lost his semi-final match to world No. 16, Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
The premature end to Edmund’s tournament would once have been deemed ‘typically British’ in nature, contributing to a popular opinion concerning the country’s sportsmen and women; always getting close, but not close enough, to victory.
But the British number two’s semi-final story, and recent meteoric rise through the ATP rankings have had an unprecedented effect. Edmund has brought about an altogether different consensus: new belief in British tennis.
“Taking tennis up aged 10, he soon found he had a natural talent for it”
Born in South Africa in 1995, and later moving to Yorkshire, Kyle Edmund, or “Kedders” as he is sometimes referred to, is no stranger to the game. Taking tennis up aged 10, he soon found he had a natural talent for it.
First scoring a Junior Davis Cup win in 2011, then back-to-back Junior Grand Slam titles in 2012 and 2013, Edmund rounded off an excellent youth career before swiftly making his transition to the senior ATP tour later in the year.
Fast forward to 2015, and his deserved call-up to Great Britain’s Davis Cup squad marked a crucial moment; a final-round debut on the international stage, and a tough encounter against then world No. 16, David Goffin.
Following an early two set lead however, leg pain struck the young Briton, and his Belgian adversary rallied to claim the five-setter.
The GB team went on to win the Davis Cup, along with the BBC’s Sports Personality Team of the Year Award. Despite losing to Goffin, the experience would unknowingly prove to be the catalyst for a breakthrough season in 2016.
Reaching his first ATP quarter-final in Qatar, Edmund also vanquished Richard Gasquet and world No. 20 John Isner in the 2016 US Open.
Post-match, Djokovic commented: “For someone his age he’s showing mental maturity… I am sure we’re going to see more of him in the future”. The Serbian’s words speak volumes of the young player, who stated: “I take loads of positives from the way I’ve been playing… I feel like there’s a lot of stuff I can improve on.”
“We may finally be ready to swap the time-old pessimism surrounding the country’s sporting professionals, for newfound optimism”
To hear such comments is surely a breath of fresh air for any British tennis fan. Edmund’s no-excuse mentality is a testament to his desire to succeed, and the public are aware of this.
The phrase “new balls please” springs to mind; we may finally be ready to swap the time-old pessimism surrounding the country’s sporting professionals, for newfound optimism.
Henman Hill to Edmund Edge? It’s a bit too early to call. There is, however, something inherently special about Kyle Edmund. Only time will tell if he matches Andy Murray’s success, but the future looks very bright for British tennis.
Image courtesy of Marianne Bevis via flickr.com
Video courtesy of youtube.com