Henry Searle is two wins from ending the 61-year wait for a British boy’s champion at Wimbledon 

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Where 35 Brits fell short, 17-year-old Henry Searle is the last one standing – Now the Wolverhampton wonderkid is two wins away from ending the 61-year wait for a new British boy’s champion at Wimbledon

It is a pub quiz question that would stump everyone except Wimbledon historians: who was the last British boy to win the juniors title and when? Answer: Stanley Matthews in 1962.

The serve-and-volleying son of football legend Sir Stanley Matthews was 17 when he won back then, and that is the age of Henry Searle, the Wolverhampton wonderkid now in the semi-finals.

Having started this tournament with 36 Brits in the men’s, women’s, boys’ and girls’ singles, there is now only one homegrown representative remaining in those draws and that is young Searle.

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The teenager beat Joao Fonseca, the eighth seed from Brazil, 7-6, 6-3 in 72 minutes on No 3 Court on Thursday to extend his record of having not surrendered a set at these Championships.

He is an avid fan of Wolves – going to Premier League games at Molineux whenever possible – and was a keen footballer until tennis turned into his true calling from the age of 11.

Henry Searle is the last British player standing at Wimbledon after 35 of his compatriots were knocked out

Henry Searle is the last British player standing at Wimbledon after 35 of his compatriots were knocked out

Stanley Matthews - son of the football legend - was the last British boy to win a junior title at Wimbledon

Sir Stanley Matthews won the Ballon d'Or award in 1956

Stanley Matthews (left) – son of the football legend – was the last British boy to win a junior title at Wimbledon

Matthews inherited some of his father's talent with the ball at his feet but would later choose tennis

Matthews inherited some of his father’s talent with the ball at his feet but would later choose tennis

The story of Matthews is intriguing because, like Searle, he was good with a ball at feet as well as racket in hand. He inherited some of his old man’s natural talent but soon discovered it was no fun being kicked, later saying: ‘They all wanted to say they had “stopped Stanley Matthews” and I went off the game.’ 

Instead he pursued professional tennis and went on to play in all four Grand Slams, including 11 consecutive Wimbledon Championships.

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Searle is now chasing his own career on the tour and the Loughborough National Academy scholar is being well supported at SW19. Not only by the locals but by family and friends, who have been called the ‘Barmy Army’ amid the football-style atmosphere they have been creating. 

They have stayed by his side ever since his surprising victory over the top seed Juan Carlos Prado Angelo of Bolivia in the first round of the boys’ singles last week.

‘That gave me confidence against the top juniors, knowing going into any match that I can play anyone on the other side of the net,’ Searle told Mail Sport on Thursday. 

‘It’s a dream to win at Wimbledon. It’s great knowing I have so much support from home. They’re all avid Wolves supporters so they’re used to a good crowd!’

Searle’s serve continued to pose a terrific threat on Thursday as he struck 14 aces against Fonseca at a top speed of 129mph, which is faster than any managed by Wimbledon men’s semi-finalists Daniil Medvedev or Novak Djokovic.

Fonseca is a highly-rated prospect – better known on the tennis beat than Searle – but it was the Brit who showed his class. Serving for the match, he secured his two-set victory with a hold to love, celebrating with a clenched fist towards his cheering camp.

Searle has a huge semi-final clash ahead of him against American fourth seed Cooper Williams

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Searle has a huge semi-final clash ahead of him against American fourth seed Cooper Williams

Searle lost in the boys' doubles alongside Tomasz Berkieta but he won't lose any sleep over the defeat

Searle lost in the boys’ doubles alongside Tomasz Berkieta but he won’t lose any sleep over the defeat

There have been some standout Wimbledon winners of the boys’ singles, including Bjorn Borg in 1972 and Roger Federer in 1998.

Yet if Searle is to get the chance to add his name to that grand group, he will need to claim another scalp in the semi-finals as he faces Cooper Williams, the fourth seed from the United States.

There was no time for celebrating his win over Fonseca. Hours later, he was back on No 3 Court to feature alongside Tomasz Berkieta in the boys’ doubles. They faced Fonseca and Prado Angelo – the two players beaten by Searle amid his run in the singles – and the Brazilian-Bolivian duo exacted some revenge in a 6-3, 6-4 win.

Searle will not lose any sleep about that doubles defeat. His focus is fully on the singles, where he is two wins from replacing Matthews.



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