Ryan Peniston relishes greatest tennis day at Queen’s after overcoming lengthy cancer battle

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On the rise: Ryan Peniston is through to the next round at Queen’s and into the main draw at Wimbledon (PA)
On the rise: Ryan Peniston is through to the next round at Queen’s and into the main draw at Wimbledon (PA)

Ryan Peniston can rarely, if ever, had better days in his tennis life.

A day which began with him earning a wildcard into the main draw at Wimbledon ended by knocking out the French Open runner-up in Casper Ruud.

At 26, he is something of a late bloomer on the main stage in a career which has taken him via France and the American college system into the playing ranks, and which began with a battle against cancer as a toddler.

Aged one, he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, which required 18 months worth of treatment involving chemotherapy and surgery.

Looking back on his tough start, Peniston said: “It was definitely a difficult start to my life. I don’t remember much but for my parents and my brothers I think it must have been a pretty tough time.

“I had the amazing doctors, amazing nurses that helped me through that and my family. Huge, huge thanks to them and, after that, I just had kind of check-ups every couple of years… just to make sure everything was ok. So standing here today, it feels pretty good.”

Peniston has a chance to continue his strong showing on grass tomorrow against clay-court specialist Francisco Cerundolo in what is only his second match on the ATP Tour.

Ahead of his first against Ruud, he admitted he had struggled to sleep. He said: “I was definitely anxious. To have my first ATP match on home soil as well brings maybe a bit of added pressure but I just think I went out there and had nothing to lose really.

“So, I kept trying to think of that. Good thoughts and, yes, it wasn’t how I expected it to go but definitely happy that it went that way.”

During the match, Peniston kept on looking at a sheet of paper with notes taken from his mind coach, the details of which he wouldn’t reveal. But whatever the words of wisdom, they are clearly working having climbed more than 200 places in the world rankings towards the top 150.

Having beaten a top-five player in Ruud and reached the Wimbledon main draw for the first time, he said he was in no rush to revise his next to-do list.

“There are a few other things I want to achieve,” he said. “I’m going to definitely make sure to enjoy them and not just cross them off straight away, write some new ones and go to the next ones. That’s a big part of enjoying the milestones and the journey as well.”

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