17-year-old Ben Draper claimed the Tier 2 AEGON British Tour title in Wimbledon this week after a very impressive 6-2 6-4 victory over second seed and ATP-ranked Robert Carter in Saturday’s final. Meanwhile, in the women’s draw, Japanese national Lily Miyasaki, the top seed, picked up the title, defeating Charlotte Pierce in the final.
In a draw packed with US College students, it was perhaps a little bit of a shock to the system for British Tour regular and top seed George Davies, who despite enjoying a bye through the first round, came up against UNLV Freshman Charlie Croxford, who had qualified for the main draw and won his first round match thanks to a walkover. Davies rather surprisingly fell to the college freshman 7-5 6-4, and with sixth seed and 14-year-old Anton Matusevich also reaching the quarter-finals, the stage was set for a mammoth clash for the first semi-final spot. Matusevich and Croxford fought out three lengthy set, all of which were decided via tiebreaks, before the 2001-born Matusevich finally triumphed 6-7(6) 7-6(9) 7-6(4).
Another interesting set of opening round clashes saw two college freshmen – fourth seed and Drake student Vincent Gillespie and Georgia State University qualifier Jack MacFarlane – take on each other, with the qualifier upsetting the seed 6-2 6-4. MacFarlane has clearly made excellent strides in his first year of college, as he reached the quarter-finals before eventually running into Ben Draper, the 5th seed. Draper was in no mood for hanging around in the quarters, defeating MacFarlane 6-2 6-1 to set up an intriguing semi-final clash with Matusevich, three years his senior and biggest rival to his younger brother, Jack.
Speaking of Ben’s younger brother, 14-year-old Jack Draper was required to qualify for the main draw this week due to his poor LTA rating in comparison to his recent ITF Junior results. Nonetheless, Draper Jr qualified with ease and proceeded to tear up his section of the draw, taking out 8th seed Rohan Sikka before facing another qualifier (and college freshman) Ben Clark in the quarter-finals. Clark had taken out 3rd seed Nikolai Snapes in the first round and is five years older than Draper, but the talented 14-year-old was unfazed and secured a 6-1 7-6(6) victory over the university student to join his brother in the semis.
A less interesting cut of the draw: seventh seed Henry Parocki was beaten early by Matthew Bailey, who in turn was defeated by Francesco Paschetto to reach the quarter-finals. But as expected, second seed Robert Carter, ranked #1856 on the ATP Tour – although for how much longer remains to be seen – came through the quarter comfortably, dropping just 7 games in two matches to set up a semi-final with Draper, eight years his senior.
There would be only one Draper brother in the final, as 2001-born rivals Matusevich and Jack Draper both fell at the penultimate hurdle, with several parties, ourselves included, looking forward to seeing the two youngsters continue their young rivalry in the final. But it was the older pair that came through in the end, with Ben Draper defeating Matusevich 6-4 7-5 and Carter coming past Jack Draper 6-2 6-1 in a widely anticipated result. In the final, though it was 17-year-old Draper who triumphed over 22-year-old Carter 6-2 6-4, giving hope that the older Draper brother may well be in line to at least gain an ATP ranking, should he pursue tennis even semi-professionally in the future.
As expected, the women’s draw was a far more predictable affair, with the seeded and more well-known players excelling ahead of the lesser-known figures. Top seed Japanese player Lily Miyasaki took on sixth seed Camille Verden Anderson in the first quarter-final, with the Japanese winning 6-3 6-4 to become the first player in the semis.
A similar story unfurled in the second quarter, with third seed Lauryn John-Baptiste and Gemma Heath, a wildcard seeded eighth, meeting in the quarter-finals. However, worth mentioning is qualifier Anna Popescu’s excellent efforts yet again, taking John-Baptiste to 7-6(2) 6-4 in the second round. It was the older and more experience John-Baptiste who claimed the second semi-final spot after a 6-3 6-2 victory over 15-year-old Heath.
Few surprises in this quarter as seventh seed Sasha Hill and fourth seed Alice Gillan made the quarters with little or no resistance. It was the lower seed Hill, though, who made the semi-finals after a hard-fought 3-6 7-5 6-4 victory over Gillan in the third quarter-final.
The only seed not to reach the quarter-finals was second seed Mollie Crouch, who played six games against Martina Paladini Jennings before pulling out, despite being a break of serve up in the first set. Jennings was then hammered 6-0 6-0 by Charlotte Pierce, the fifth seeded 22-year-old formerly ranked on the WTA Tour, who became the final piece of the semi-final jigsaw.
Miyasaki and John-Baptiste fought out a close couple of sets before the Japanese emerged a 6-4 6-4 victor, and threaten to produce a non-British winner of an AEGON British Tour event, while in the bottom half, fifth seed Pierce had a slice of luck after taking the first set 6-3 against Sasha Hill before the seventh seed retired hurt. In the final, though, it was the Japanese top seed who emerged triumphant.