Henry Searle says ‘great to be back’ at Wimbledon after boys’ title win in 2023

Henry Searle will go into his main draw debut at Wimbledon feeling at home after lifting the boys’ title a year ago.

The 18-year-old became the first British winner of the boys’ singles for 61 years, going one better than the likes of Liam Broady and Jack Draper, and his impressive progress in the senior game has earned him a wild card for the men’s event.

Searle, ranked 568th, will take on American Marcos Giron in the opening round on Tuesday, and he said: “It’s great. It’s always special being here and it’s amazing to be in the men’s this year.

“It was an amazing week (last year) obviously, everything to do with it was very enjoyable. It feels great to be back, and it feels a bit like home.”

The jump from juniors to seniors can be a very difficult one, especially for boys, but left-hander Searle, who keeps the trophy in a cabinet by his bed, has used his powerful game to good effect, picking up some notable wins and more than halving his ranking in less than a year.

“I think I’ve improved in all aspects,” he said. “We’ve been working especially on the physical side. I’m just trying to keep improving as fast as I can and working towards being the best player possible.

“We’ve been working hard to jump up to this sort of level. It’s going at a pretty good rate at the minute so I’m hoping to keep improving on that.

Henry Searle in action against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in Eastbourne
Henry Searle in action against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in Eastbourne (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Hopefully it’ll come, and I’ll keep sticking at it if it takes a little bit longer. No particular goals, I’m not in a rush.”

Searle, from Wolverhampton, will also partner fellow Midlander Dan Evans in the men’s doubles, while he has been picking up tips from new British number one Draper.

“We’re similar in terms of being lefties and he’s very supportive and gives good advice to what it takes and what’s needed at the top of the men’s game,” added Searle. “And seeing him putting it into action is pretty inspiring.”

The teenager is one of four British debutants this year, all in the men’s singles, with Searle joined by Billy Harris, Jacob Fearnley and Charles Broom.

Harris has earned a lot of attention over the grass-court season for his strong performances at Queen’s and Eastbourne but Fearnley and Broom, who met in the final of the Challenger Tour event in Nottingham earlier this month, will be unfamiliar to all but the most hardcore tennis fans.

Broom, 26, has been gradually climbing the rankings since a lengthy stint at college in the USA between 2017 and 2021, following in the footsteps of compatriots Cameron Norrie and Paul Jubb.

His Wimbledon debut will come against three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka on Court Two on Monday, an occasion he will relish.

Charles Broom in action in Eastbourne
Charles Broom in action in Eastbourne (Steven Paston/PA)

“It’s a good draw I think, I’m just excited,” said Broom. “Stan’s pretty amazing, he’s a tennis legend really. I’m going to go in there with no expectations and try and play my game, do the best I can and just enjoy it as much as possible.”

Broom, from St Albans, used to come to Wimbledon as a child with his tennis coach mum Jenny, while two of his college friends are taking a day off work on Monday and travelling over from the States especially to watch him play.

“They’re buzzing,” he said. “I definitely will get them a ticket, they won’t be waiting outside.

“I was talking with my mum and trying to remember how many times we’ve been to Wimbledon as spectators. To be fortunate enough to do that and now to be here, it’s a very proud moment for me but also for my family. It means a lot to them and I just want to go out there and make them proud.”