Indian-origin American Samir Banerjee lifted the Wimbledon boys singles title with a straight-sets win over compatriot Victor Lilov on Sunday.
Playing his second junior Grand Slam, 17-year-old won 7-5, 6-3 in the final that lasted in one hour and 22 minutes. He broke his rival thrice and dropped serve only once. At the junior French Open, Banerjee, ranked 19 in the world, had crashed out in the first round.
On Saturday, he was tested in the semi-finals against France’s Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg before winning 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-2. In the quarters, he Mili Poljicak 6-1, 6-1.
Banerjee’s parents moved to America in the 1980s and he is based in New Jersey.
“I came into this tournament looking to win a round and trying to play well because I knew I was playing well before this,” he was quoted as saying by itftennis.com.
“I didn’t really know how I would do on grass so I wanted to come in and give it my best. It’s amazing that I have been able to play this well.”
As Lilov’s backhand sailed over the baseline on match-point, Banerjee dropped his racquet, put both his hands on his head in disbelief.
The youngster, reportedly, will take a break from the tour to enroll for a degree in either economics or political science at the Columbia University in the coming months.
While Banerjee’s victory is a testament to the system that US Tennis Association has put in place, India has been struggling to field a worthy contender at junior Grand Slams for some time now.
Due to lack of a robust domestic circuit and not having enough competitions at home to earn world ranking points, India has been struggling to create the next crop of youngsters.
Yuki Bhambri was the last Indian to win a junior singles title when he triumphed at the Australian Open in 2009 while Sumit Nagal won the Wimbledon boys doubles in 2015 with Vietnam’s Ly Hoang Nam.
Ramanathan Krishnan was the first Indian to win a junior major when he won the 1954 Junior Wimbledon championship. His son Ramesh Krishnan won the 1970 junior Wimbledon and junior French Open titles while Leander Paes won the 1990 junior Wimbledon and junior US Open. Paes was also a runner-up at the junior Australian Open.
With PTI Inputs