A Tennis prodigy from the Capital is snapping at Andy Murray’s heels after becoming the first Scottish player to be invited to a prestigious tennis tournament in Paris.
Jacob Fearnley, 11, who attends Merchiston Castle School and is currently ranked top under-12 in the East of Scotland and second in the whole of Great Britain, is the first Scot ever to be chosen as the UK representative for the Longines Future Tennis Aces Competition.
If he succeeds in snatching the title after competing against 15 of his peers from all over the world, Jacob, who has been playing since the age of four, will also receive sports equipment funding until his 16th birthday.
Undaunted by the challenge ahead, Jacob, who was undefeated in both doubles and singles for the under-12s at the recent Tennis European Winter Cup, says he is looking forward to taking on the top-hitters in his age range.
The youngster, who lives in Fairmilehead with mum Samantha, who works in HR, and dad Craig, and has an older brother, James, 23, said: “I love everything about playing tennis. Since Marcel du Coudray began coaching me last August it has got more intense – I train for longer and he works me a lot harder, putting me up against more challenging opponents, but it’s all worthwhile.”
The youngster, who admires Roger Federer for his technique and Rafael Nadal for his fighting spirit, was first taught to play by his grandparents and his mother.
He continued: “I remember I used to play against my grandad in his back garden in Penicuik – though I had to keep my eye on the ball because it wasn’t the best surface so there were a lot of rubbish bounces.”
And it was his grandfather who first began to push for the youngster to join the Tennis Academy Scotland, which trains pupils from Merchiston and St George’s.
Academy coach Marcel du Coudray said: “The amount of dedication and focus Jacob has is truly incredible. Other coaches who have watched him play say he reminds them of a young Tim Henman.”
He isn’t the only one who feels Jacob’s invitation to Paris is well-deserved.
Dave McDermott, spokesman for Tennis Scotland, said: “This is brilliant news for Jacob and another example of how the Andy Murray effect is working. We wish him the best of luck.”
The Longines Future Tennis Aces Tournament will take place in Paris from May 27 to June 2.