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Kenny De Schepper keeps France in the hunt

Kenny De Schepper hits a slice back to David Ferrer during their second round match.
by Stuart Fraser
Saturday 29 June 2013

If tennis fans had been asked prior to the start of The Championships which two Frenchmen would remain come the second week, it is a fair bet that Kenny De Schepper would not be mentioned too often.

But just two years since 26-year-old De Schepper played his first ever main draw tour match here at the All England Club, the unheralded world No.80 joined compatriot Adrian Mannarino in the fourth round as he beat the No.22 seed Juan Monaco 6-4, 7-6(8), 6-4.

It is quite a moment for De Schepper, who less than four months ago played a Futures event in Lille, France where he reached the second round to claim one ranking point and £102. This Fortnight he is now guaranteed at least 180 ranking points and £105,000.

De Schepper – who benefited from a second round walkover against Marin Cilic  is a tricky customer on the grass, as he showed in his win over Monaco. Standing at 6ft 8in tall, the left-hander was hitting serves at up to 133mph and was never afraid to approach the net.

In keeping with the growing trend in tennis, De Schepper is a bit of a late bloomer, although he is unique in that he does not have a junior record. He stopped playing for 18 months at the age of 14 due to pain caused by a growth spurt.

“When I was 14 years old, I was having trouble playing,” said De Schepper. “In a year I grew more than 20cm and had trouble with my balance. I grew up so fast in such a short period of time. Also on top of growing very fast, I also had a knee injury when I was go-karting. I broke suddenly and injured my left bicep as well.”

De Schepper eventually returned to tennis but was having little success and decided to remodel his game. “When I was young and growing up, I was never at the top of my age group,” said De Schepper. “I really started to improve and get better when I changed my game at 18. I changed from a double handed backhand to one hand. I also changed my service technique. Working hard at it, I improved it.”

Having only claimed three main draw wins on the tour this year prior to The Championships, De Schepper has found a bit of form here on the grass at Wimbledon. He will have to keep it up if he is to have a chance against Fernando Verdasco on Monday.

De Schepper's fellow countryman Benoit Paire suffered a tame end to his tournament, losing 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 to world No.130 Lukasz Kubot. The Pole, who celebrated with a victory dance on court, faces another Frenchman next in Mannarino.

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