Emma Raducanu’s sensational US Open win has already sparked a surge in interest among a new generation of youngsters to play tennis, her former coach has said.
Staff and players at her old club said they were still “buzzing” after a late night of celebrations and say “the world is her oyster now” after the 18 year-old became the first British female to win the US Open since Virginia Wade in 1968.
Raducanu played at Parklangley Club in Beckenham, south-east London, where she was coached by Harry Bushnell from the age of six to 10.
He believes the new Raducanu era is “massive” for British tennis which has been desperate to emulate the top flight achievements of Grand Slam winner Sir Andy Murray in the women’s game.
Sir Andy won three Grand Slam singles titles out of the 11 finals he has played.
Mr Bushnell said: “There will be more to come now. I know she is up to it.
“Last night I saw her interviews after the match and she conducted herself incredibly well.
“She was not too emotional and held herself together impeccably.
“When she was parading the trophy after the final, she said herself that she was ready to do anything that is thrown at her.
“While she is only 18, it just feels like she has been here before and she was born to do it.
“I think she is one of those special ones that will handle it and take it all in her stride.”
Raducanu put in “an absolutely unbelievable performance” to beat 19-year-old teenager Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 in Saturday’s final at Flushing Meadows because she was in a Grand Slam final the first time, playing in front of a capacity crowd and in one of the biggest stadiums in the world, according to Mr Bushnell.
He recalled that Raducanu always stood out as something special among the young players.
“The one thing about Emma is that she just seemed different.
“I don’t really know what that was but you just had a feeling about her.
“While it is unprecedented, what she has done, I would say that if anyone was going to to it, it was going to be Emma Raducanu,” he said.
“It is just a real buzz to be part of it.”
There has been a long and detailed plan involving a lot of coaches and other people to develop Raducanu into a bright young talent, according to club manager Dave Cooke who said that everyone expected her to do well in tennis but not so quickly at this level.
As an unseeded qualifier, Raducanu exceeded her own wildest dreams in claiming her first Grand Slam title and won the tournament without dropping a set.
Mr Cooke was impressed by her mental strength adding she was “just being so strong in being in a grand slam final for the first time and (doing it) at such a young age.”
He said: “Her physical work was just amazing.
“She is so strong and able to enjoy it, and be in the moment while also producing fantastic tennis.
Seeing images of her singing Sweet Caroline as it was played at the stadium after she won was just typical of the hardworking “level-headed fun-loving kid” that he remembers who was always willing to give her time and help out with the juniors at the club.
He pointed out that her elite victory has already has an impact, adding: “I was the first one to open up the club today and the kids were beaming.
“One of them said they had learned so much from watching Emma last night and they were so keen to get going and into their coaching session.
“They were just inspiration and you could see the inspiration of the kids face which was just absolutely amazing.
Of Raducanu’s future, Mr Cooke added: “The world is her oyster now.
“She has overcome so much to get to a final and to win it and now kick on from that is the next big thing.
“From our point of view, we think she can go all the way and be a true star.”
Seven-year-old Chanel Boreland sometimes eats and does her homework on the two-and-a-half hour journey she makes with her single mother to get to the club from their home in east London.
Chanel, who has been playing tennis for a year, said: “I know only a little bit about tennis but I know that Emma is a good player.
“It makes me feel very excited.”
She said that Raducanu became a good player by training and said “being good takes practice and I can practice because you do not always get it right the first time”.
She added: “I like tennis because it is good exercise and I can learn.”
Chanel’s mother Evelina Brinkeviciute said: “I brought her to this place because I could see they grow their players and there is progress.
“Chanel is very calm and I sometimes see kids crying because of the pressure. I do not put that on her.
“She knows that she has to learn and she is trying to get better.
“She asks if we can come early so she can do her warm-ups. I am really happy for her.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe