Samir Banerjee is Jr Wimbledon champ: ‘Felt my roots today’

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The name got here simply because the ball bounced. It was out. At as soon as, he dropped his racquet and raised his palms to his head, a bemused smile on his face. Then, wanting up in direction of his uncle within the gamers’ field, the 17-year-old began shouting in disbelief however the phrases had been drowned out by the packed crowd inside Court 1.

Samir Banerjee had simply grow to be the brand new Junior Boys Wimbledon champion.

“I was saying ‘are you kidding me’. I said it three or four times. I just couldn’t believe it. I was in shock, and then that shock turned into happiness, and then I got excited. It just made me very happy,” he advised The Indian Express.

Banerjee is an American participant of Indian origin — his father is from Assam and mom from Andhra Pradesh — and has captured the eye of followers from two nations. But if he wasn’t too acutely aware of his roots earlier than, he “definitely felt it today,” in the course of the 7-5, 6-3 win over fellow American Victor Lilov.

“Just looking into the crowd, there were a lot of Indians there, supporting me a lot. I really appreciated that. Some were shouting very loudly, some asked me for photographs afterwards. I’m obviously not from India, I’m American. But having Indian relatives and parents, it makes me appreciate the culture and everything that goes with it,” he stated.

Incidentally, 4 Indian gamers have gained Junior Grand Slam titles: Yuki Bhambri (2009 Australian Open), Leander Paes (Wimbledon 1990 and US Open 1991), Ramesh Krishnan (French Open and Wimbledon 1979) and Ramanathan Krishnan (Wimbledon 1954).

For Banerjee, a New Jersey resident, this was his second Junior Grand Slam look — the primary at this 12 months’s French Open led to an opening-round loss, reducing expectations in London.

“I was contemplating if I could compete at the Grand Slam level because this is where the best players in the world are. I just wanted to get my foot in the door and win one round. Then I won another and I started building confidence. I had more belief in my game. And then I found myself in the final and I played my best tennis today,” Banerjee stated.

However, Sunday got here with its share of nerves. He remembers waking up sooner than regular, and carrying the nervousness until the third sport. It was his second service sport and it lasted 16 factors earlier than he might maintain serve. “I think we were both nervous in the start, we were just trying to get a feel. But that game helped me loosen up and take my chances,” he stated.

Then, Banerjee held an important service sport of his life to this point — for the title. “It sounds unbelievable and it just hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s crazy to think that I’ve achieved that,” he stated.

The 6-ft-2 teenager has the tendency of coming as much as the web to complete factors early, and that’s why grass courts go well with his enjoying model. But on the identical time, his method is measured and efficient.

On Sunday, he gained 17 of his 19 method photographs. “He has very good and quick hands, and impressive touch-play,” India Davis Cup participant N Sriram Balaji, who had skilled with Banerjee in Germany final month, stated.

“He likes coming up to the net, which is something very unusual for young players who like to stay at the baseline. But he’s got the mentality to back himself up at the net and that makes a big difference. Besides, on grass, volleying is key,” Balaji stated.

This time, Banerjee had additionally include an improved forehand. “His backhand is a weapon but he was neutral on the forehand. The coach worked with him and he learnt how and when to pull the trigger,” Balaji stated.

With a Junior Grand Slam title below his belt, Banerjee’s path to the skilled stream is clear. But with Columbia University lined up subsequent 12 months, he’s nonetheless considering his resolution to enter the US faculty tennis stream.

“I have to re-evaluate my options. I’m playing well and this is a really good stepping stone. I’m going to play more professional tournaments to see where I stand, but as of now college is definitely in the picture. I think it’ll be a good step for me, but this is a good step to the pro route. I’ll have to make a decision later on because I still have another year before I go to college,” he stated.

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