Success of Willis leads to junior boom at Boat Club

Marcus Willis with Roger Federer ahead of their Centre Court clash.

Marcus Willis with Roger Federer ahead of their Centre Court clash.

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Warwick Boat Club are continuing to reap the benefits of Marcus Willis’ stunning run to the second round of Wimbledon last July.

Willis’ dramatic run through qualifying and on to a Centre Court clash with Roger Federer captured the public’s imagination and led to 43 youngsters signing up for coaching at Boat Club, forcing additional courses to be provided.

The overnight success of Boat Club’s little known professional meant there was overwhelming media interest in both the player and his home club and tennis manager Gavin Henderson said it was something they were ill prepared for.

“We were unprepared and struggled to cope with demands for live interviews, accommodating camera crews and calls from reporters all over the world,” said Henderson.

“It was bewildering and disruptive. We had not been trained in how to deal with it.

“Such was the interest over the ten days, the phone kept ringing.

“I had to drop everything and our volunteer tennis captain lost a week’s work.

“However, it increased awareness of the club, its magnificent setting, and local tennis.”

Willis’ success has been a catalyst for further outstanding achievements at Boat Club, with junior Harry Lazell representing Great Britain and at the other end of the scale, Jenny Waggott winning the gold medal at the Super Seniors World Team Championships.

Arancha Jiminez claimed victory in the Warwickshire closed singles, while Liz Graham represented Wales and Paul Martin and Hugh Jacques won the national indoor over-35 doubles.

A buoyant Henderson added: “Tennis is in a good place just now.

“Boys and girls are inspired and want to get involved with the sport following the success of Andy Murray, Johanna Konta and our own Marcus.”