Bromley Tennis Centre is the place where it all began for Emma Raducanu, and last night, they watched her make history.
After first picking up a racket at the age of five, it’s where she trained regularly throughout her school years.
With her school only a stone’s throw away, the 18-year-old could be found practising before and after class, and sometimes even during school hours.
The members and staff here look forward to giving her a hero’s welcome when she returns home – in the meantime, it’s practice as usual, with the courts packed with motivated members.
Matt James, who coached Emma for two years, told Sky News he’s “immensely proud and excited” for Raducanu.
He said she’s “catapulted herself” while in turn inspiring the next generation of tennis players.
Mr James first expected Raducanu to achieve great things after first seeing her play junior Wimbledon three years ago, where “you could see then this gritty determined young girl”.
But he didn’t expect for this success to come so quickly.
He said: “We all knew that she was probably under ranked and a little bit off the radar.
“We knew the level was there but we didn’t quite think it was going to be quite so big so soon.”
He added: “She learns from experiences, she’s learnt massively from her run at Wimbledon and unfortunately pulling out, and being on a big court, she’s used that in positive way so I think we’ve big things ahead.”
Emma Wanostrocht, business manager at Virtus, works closely with the Bromley Tennis Centre and has known Raducanu for 10 years.
She told Sky News: “Emma has always conducted herself with poise, composure and maturity.
“Her work ethic is different to what we see from anybody, whether she’s in the court, in the gym or at school, she always gives it her everything.”
She added: “She’s an inspiration to all of our kids and for the nation to be choosing to watch women’s tennis on a Saturday night – it’s a turning point for women’s tennis.
“I think we can expect some pretty big things before this, it won’t be her last grand slam or her last championship – she’s going to be on the circuit for many years.”
The impact Raducanu’s success has had on aspiring tennis players is already becoming clear.
Ms Wanostrocht said: “Our programme was already bursting at the seams, but the amount of interest we’ve had this week has rocketed.”
Gemma Smith began training at the club at eight years old, nearly a decade later she now coaches junior classes.
She told Sky News: “I’ve never screamed so much at the TV in such a long time.
“It was amazing, her serving was amazing and I was so inspired to see someone so young playing so well.
“It was just so surreal for someone so young to be winning such a big title.”
She added that it shows “anyone any age can dream big”.
The younger players at the club have found a new role model to look up to.
Claudia, has been playing tennis for the past two years.
The eight-year-old told Sky News she dreams of becoming a “really good tennis player” like Ranucanu.
Meanwhile, brothers Arthur and Walter say it’s “really cool” to be playing on the same courts as Raducanu, saying they want to go on to become “tennis champions” too.
For nine-year-old Sana, the future may not hold tennis, but Raducanu’s work ethic is something she looks up to.
She told Sky News: “I like that she’s really young and she’s worked hard and so she’s a great tennis player.”
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