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Teenage sensation Emma Raducanu only finished her A-levels in April but showed she has been doing her tennis homework with a tactical masterclass on debut at Wimbledon, writes Josh Graham.
Raducanu is a member of the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme, which provides world-class coaching, medical and financial support to Britain’s elite young players with the potential to reach the top 100 within five years.
The Kent star, 18, was handed a wildcard into the main draw and finished the day as the sole surviving Brit in the women’s singles after a 7-6 (4) 6-0 victory over Russian qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko in the opening round.
“To be here now at Wimbledon is unbelievable, it's surreal,” said the world No.318, who studied Maths and Economics at Newstead Wood School in Orpington.
“I had my final A-level examinations in April, so I was actually sitting an exam two months ago.
“I'm definitely trying to pursue a tennis career, but I think staying in school has helped me in terms of having another set of friends I can come into.
“It's a bit of an escape as well for me. To have another thing going alongside my tennis, it's kept my mind occupied.
“When you train, you only train a certain amount of hours a day. You've still got a lot of time to fill.
“I find it's actually helped me with my on-court career as well in the way that I can absorb a lot of information.
“I feel that on court I'm more tactically astute than some others.”
It appeared the occasion might get the better of the youngster on Court 18 when she served four double faults in her opening service game, however she rallied from 4-1 down in the first set to win it in a tie-break.
“It was just a nervy experience in the beginning, playing your first main draw Grand Slam match at Wimbledon,” said Raducanu, who will face 2019 French Open finalist Markéta Vondroušová on Thursday.
“A lot of people there, you didn't want to let them down.
“I'm just really happy that I managed to find a way through the tough moments, then I settled in and started playing more relaxed.”
Raducanu showed she had fully got to grips with her opponent - who famously knocked Maria Sharapova out in the first round in 2018 and did not lose a set in qualifying this year - by handing her a bagel to close out the match.
“Going into the match I knew she was going to be a difficult player to play against,” said Raducanu.
“I just knew that I was going to really have to get low and try and get the ball out of her strike zone because when she had it near her, you gave her a little bit of angle, she would just take it on.
“So I tried to really either make her move a bit or sometimes jam her, and it worked.”
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