The Middle Saturday at Wimbledon is a day for sporting superstars in the Royal Box, a packed Henman Hill, but, more importantly for the purposes of this piece, lots and lots of little people. For Middle Saturday marks the commencement of the junior events at Wimbledon, the Boys’ Singles Championship and the Girls’ Singles Championship. Wimbledon prides itself on being one of the first of the four Grand Slams to offer a fully-fledged tournament to juniors, with the aim of preparing the stars of the future for what it’s like to hit the big time.
Being Wimbledon, many of the names in the junior draws are British, and it was a day of mixed fortunes for some of GB’s best boys and girls.
First up on Court 9 was 15-year-old Harriet Dart, bowing out 2-6, 4-6 to Sabina Sharipova of Uzbekistan. No relation to Maria, mind. While at the same time, the colourfully named Clay Crawford surrendered 4-6, 3-6 to Yoshito Nishioka of Japan.
Evan Hoyt, a member of GB’s triumphant Davis Cup team in Mexico last year, lost 1-6, 7-5, 6-0 to Chile’s Christian Garin, Pippa Horn, another promising one to watch, was felled 1-6, 4-6 by Aldila Sutijadi of Indonesia, and Lana Rush, of whom big things are also expected, lost a tight match, 6-7(4), 3-6 to Brazil’s Laura Pigossi.
There was solace to be found, however, in Liam Broady, last year’s runner-up, and Luke Bambridge, another member of the victorious Davis Cup team last year. Bambridge saw off Vaclav Safranek of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-4, and Broady, who came agonisingly close last year to becoming Britain’s first boy’s champion at Wimbledon since Stanley Matthews junior, came through 6-3, 7-6(1) against Filip Bergevi of Sweden.
Match of the day however went to Kyle Edmund, another one with a junior Davis Cup trophy at home, who battled away against eighth seed American Mitchell Krueger. Edmund recovered from dropping the first set 4-6 to take the second on a tie-break, 6-7(6), only to lose an agonisingly close third set, 8-10.