Evan Hoyt’s unexpected Wimbledon success is especially sweet because it was not long ago that he feared his career might be over.
The 24-year-old Welshman and fellow British player Eden Silva are through to the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles after a 5-7 7-6 (5) 6-4 victory over Belgian Joran Vliegen and Zheng Saisai of China.
Hoyt was one of Britain’s leading juniors and played Wimbledon three times but it is only this year that he has finally made it back as a senior.
A stress fracture in his back put him out for a year and then, just as he was working his way up the rankings again, a shoulder injury that required surgery sidelined him for 18 months.
“At times I doubted whether I wanted to come back,” said Hoyt.
“I was out not doing much. I tried to keep myself as active as possible, I started doing a university degree and was doing a little bit of coaching to earn a little bit of money but I knew it would be quite a way away to come back.
“But I’ve always dreamt of playing Wimbledon and getting back, and I believed – having the belief was the main thing.
“I’m fit and healthy at the moment and I have been for almost two years now, and I know I’m heading in the right direction.
“I’ve got a great team of people around me and a great family who have supported me through those tough times. I’m just enjoying this week because it’s definitely one of the highs, but all the tough times make this more enjoyable.”
Hoyt is also on the up in singles having won three lower-tier titles this season. His good form earned him a wild card into Wimbledon qualifying and he is hoping to be at the Australian Open in his own right.
His experiences here have fuelled his sense of self-confidence.
He said: “As a junior you’re cornered off over in Aorangi and you use the changing rooms over there so to be in and amongst all the top players in the world over this side, it’s just a completely different feeling.
“I’ve been treated in the physio rooms and been talking to John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. And especially winning matches at this level, you kind of feel like you belong more and more.
“I know Eden and I are both feeling more and more comfortable. Court Two was a big court to play on and I think we took it in our stride and we played some great tennis, especially in the big moments.
“We’ve tried to have fun out there. I’ve reminded Eden every match to just enjoy it and not have any expectations because this is our first Wimbledon.
“At times, if you do get too serious, you kind of lose that energy and that buzz and the bond you have out on the court. I’m just delighted.”
Hoyt and Silva do not yet know who their opponents in the last eight will be but, should they go all the way, they could find themselves taking on Andy Murray and Serena Williams on Sunday.
“I’d be pumped for it,” said Hoyt. “Who knows. We’re taking it one match at a time and we’re just enjoying it.”