Is Jack Draper the future of British tennis? Teenager, 19, who gave Novak Djokovic a scare is son of ex-boss of Lawn Tennis Association, went to same private school as Tim Henman and is already winning over female fans with smouldering modelling shoots
- Jack Draper opened Wimbledon against defending champion Novak Djokovic
- Athlete, 19, is son of ex Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper
- Between ages 11 and 12-years-old, Draper was part of Academy with Chelsea FC
- Explained there was ‘quite a lot of jealousy’ from boys when he was younger
British tennis player Jack Draper has come a long way since having ’15 boys on the balcony willing him on to lose’ as he opened the 134th championships on Centre Court against the defending champion Novak Djokovic this afternoon.
The 19-year-old, from Leatherhead in Surrey, who is ranked 253rd in the world, previous claim to fame was being the younger son of ex Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper – but today he was flying the flag for Britain as Wimbledon got under way for the first time in two years.
The match ultimately ended in defeat for the teen, with sets two, three and four being won by the 19-time Slam champion for the loss of five games.
However, the first, won 6-4 in 37 minutes, is sure to secure Draper in the memory and reinforce the idea that he is the best of the emerging British players.
But while Draper is considered by many as the country’s brightest new star, he hasn’t always lead the popularity contest – with jealous boys making petty remarks because he grew up in Wimbledon village and trained at the same National Tennis Centre that his father had commissioned.
‘There was quite a lot of jealousy when I was younger,’ Draper previously told Telegraph Sport. ‘I would often go to junior tournaments and have 15 boys on the balcony I had never seen before willing me on to lose, making noises before I serve, all that sort of stuff. That’s just kids’ stuff, though, isn’t it?
British tennis player Jack Draper, 19, opened the 134th championships on Centre Court against the defending champion and world number one, Novak Djokovic today
Pictured, Jack Draper attends the ‘Andy Murray: Resurfacing’ world premiere at the Curzon Bloomsbury on November 25, 2019 in London
Draper (pictured, on August 2017), who is the only British teenager in the world’s 300 top-ranked players, is seen as the country’s brightest new star
British tennis player Jack Draper and coach Ryan Jones Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Day 12, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, on 14 July 2018
‘I realised as I got older, that’s just the way it is. There’s always going to be people thinking that I am getting better treatment or whatever.
But at the end of the day, I am the one who has put all my efforts and hard work and sacrifices into being a good tennis player.’
A few weeks ago Draper, who attended the same Surrey school as Tim Henman and has often practised with Andy Murray, was little-known beyond tennis fans.
But tennis has always been in the family’s blood. His mother, Nicki, who is divorced from his father, was an outstanding British junior player before becoming a coach, while his uncle Jon Entract also played to a high level.
Meanwhile, his brother, Ben, has just graduated on a tennis scholarship from the University of California at Berkeley.
For 18 months, between the ages of 11 and 12-years-old, Draper was part of the Academy with Chelsea FC – before deciding tennis was the sport for him.
Jack Draper’s father is ex-Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper (pictured), who is now the Chief Commercial Officer for the Rugby Football League
The heartthrob, who has a clothing sponsorship with Nike and a racket deal with Dunlop, has also won over a new legion of fans thanks to his smouldering model shots
A few weeks ago Draper (pictured), whose mother, Nicki, was an outstanding British junior player before becoming a coach, was little-known beyond tennis fans
He had his first experience of Centre Court when he watched Andy Murray lose the 2012 final to Roger Federer, and three years ago, aged 16, went on to make the Wimbledon junior final – earning a top-500 ranking on the adult tour on the journey.
Draper credits a comment made by veteran coach Alan Jones, who is often praised for helping Jo Durie reach number 5 in the world, for helping him achieve the success he has in the sport.
Recalling the moment in The Telegraph, he explained: ‘We were in Australia [for the junior Australian Open] at the start of 2018 and I remember seeing an online interview with Alan. He obviously didn’t mean it at all but he said one of our top juniors and favourite to win is out there in Australia with hitting partner Jack Draper.’
Draper went on to say how the remark made him more ‘motivated’ than ever before – and it wasn’t long before he went from around 100 in the junior rankings, to finding himself in the final of Wimbledon.
Runner-up Jack Draper of Great Britain holds his trophy after being defeated by Chun Hsin Tseng of Taiwan in the Boys’ Singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 15, 2018 in London
Jack Draper poses with his runners up plate after losing to Taiwan’s Tseng Chun Hsin in their boys’s singles final match on the thirteenth day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon on July 15, 2018
Today’s match could hardly be more daunting with Novak Djokovic, 34, favourite to retain the men’s singles trophy
Just last week, Draper beat two top 40 players, Jannik Sinner and Alexander Bublik, to make the quarter-finals at the Queen’s Club Championship in London – and finally made it to the world’s top 250.
So it’s no surprise the teen is now considered to be the nearest thing to a long-term male successor to Sir Andy Murray when it comes to a British standard-bearer.
‘He looks like the heir apparent,’ former US Open finalist Greg Rusedski told Tatler. ‘It’s going to be very interesting to see Jack against the best player on the planet, see how his game holds up.
‘It’s an amazing experience to play the defending champion in the opening match of the Championships.’
For four years, Draper he has been coached at the Junior Elite Tennis academy in Middlesex by Ryan Jones, who has also worked with the likes of Kyle Edmund and Borna Coric.
Draper is seen as the nearest thing to a long-term male successor to Sir Andy Murray when it comes to a British standard-bearer. Pictured, playing the Boys’ Singles Final at Wimbledon in 2018)
While Forbes ranked Djokovic in the top 50 highest-earning athletes after receiving $30 million in endorsements and $4.5 million in winnings in the first six months of this year, Draper has earned $63,000 in prize money, The Telegraph reported.
The heartthrob, who has a clothing sponsorship with Nike and a racket deal with Dunlop, has also won over a new legion of fans thanks to his smouldering model shots.
Draper obtained his place at Wimbledon due to a wildcard and was immediately served up a showdown with the best player in the tournament.
Following the draw against the defending champion, Draper said: ‘I’m very excited. Looking forward to getting out there.’
Speaking to The Times, he told how his phone hasn’t stopped going off, adding: ‘It’s just my friends, my old schoolfriends.
‘They probably don’t know a lot about tennis but they see me playing Djokovic, and they are messaging me saying, ‘Oh my god, you are playing Novak — secure the win!’
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