Kyle Edmund, the youngest and lowest ranked Brit to turn out on the opening day of qualifying, was never expected to notch up a win on his debut at the Bank of England Sports Grounds. His opponent, Daniel Gimeno-Traver, was not only ranked an astonishing 1168 places above the 17-year-old, he was also seeded twelfth. Experience was not supposed to be on his side.
Even so, it was difficult to tell the players apart. Both were relentless, hitting balls with incredible depth and accuracy but it was the fair haired chap from East Yorkshire who managed to break the Spaniard in the final game to secure a 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4 victory and book a place in the second round. “It was definitely my biggest win so far” he said beaming.
Edmund's win lifted the spirits of the British contingent, who had been buoyed by just the one ray of hope, in the form of Chris Eaton, that chap who reached the second round of Wimbledon in 2008.
It didn’t matter that at 523, his ranking was 287 spots below that of his opponent Benjamin Mitchell. Eaton’s finely tuned service weapon was in full flow and despite a wobble in the second set helped him see off Australia’s 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3. “I’m getting through the tight ones which is important,” Eaton said after the match.
Eaton and Edmund were the highs on an otherwise middling day for the Brits.
By 3pm, watched by Andy Murray, a face you would not ordinarily expect to see at Wimbledon qualifying, no less than five of the British wildcards had been cast out of the opening round with Edward Corrie leading the pack following a 4-6, 3-6 defeat at the hands of France’s Stephane Robert.
George Morgan, who lifted the 2011 Wimbledon boys’ doubles title with Croat partner Mate Pavic on No.1 Court last year, took to the rather less grandiose surroundings of Roehampton’s Court 15 for his encounter against Spaniard Inigo Cervantes.
But the 31st seed employed an aggressive baseline approach from the off against the Bolton lad denying him any opportunity to play or even sniff out a game in the opening set. Morgan found a degree of form in the second but was visibly and audibly frustrated by the quality of his serving – two double faults in the final game cost him dearly and his dreams of a main draw men’s singles appearance were shattered as he crashed out 0-6, 4-6.
He was joined by fellow Brit Andrew Fitzpatrick, who fell 3-6, 4-6 to Marco Chiudinelli (No. 17 seed). Both Richard Bloomfield and David Rice displayed sterling efforts in their respective matches against Japan’s Hiroki Moriya and China’s Ze Zhang with both players staging spectacular comebacks but it was ultimately their opponents’ whom possessed the edge when it mattered. Bloomfield lost 4-6, 4-6, while Rice fought back from a set down only to suffer a 3-6, 6-4, 2-6 defeat.
It looked like Liam Broady, last year's junior finalist, might halt the slide when he arrived to do battle with Thomas Fabbiano, and raced ahead to a 5-2 lead. But then the unthinkable happened. Broady lost three games on the trot, was forced to a tie-break and played erratically to find himself 1-5 down. An array of beautiful winners followed but it was too little too late with the Italian eventually edging him out 7-6(5), 6-4.
Meanwhile Luke Bambridge, like Morgan, Broady and Edmund, making his debut at Wimbledon qualifying, was also sent home in straight sets.