Recalling when US Open champion Emma Raducanu impressed as a nine-year-old in Edinburgh
Emma Raducanu is the British sportsperson on everybody's lips after her incredible US Open singles triumph last weekend, but she caught the eye ten years ago in Scotland when winning the nine-and-under Scottish championships.
On her visit to Edinburgh in 2011, there was no room for her precocious talents at the traditional home of the sport – the Craiglockhart courts – due to so many tournaments being played at the one time. After her triumph in New York on Saturday over Leylah Fernandez, they would be rolling out the red carpet today.
John Stevenson, from Glasgow, referee of the nine-and-under Scottish Championship event won by Raducanu in 2011, recalls: “There were so many entries for the various age-groups that Tennis Scotland had to utilise extra courts at the David Lloyd Centre, the Gyle.
“The nine and unders were played there over two days and the competitors had to put up with pouring rain!
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“Emma was obviously good (to win). This was a grade two national Great Britain event and all the top youngsters tended to take part.
“It was maybe different as they got older as some of the top under-18s, say, had other (tennis) commitments but youngsters, like Emma, would travel from all around the country for that age-group.
“I certainly remember taking the photograph of Emma with her medal, which has appeared on social media.”
Among the field of 24 competitors was former Firrhill HS, Edinburgh, student Lucia Rizza, who has gone on to win Scottish age-group and East of Scotland senior titles as well as enrolling at the University of North Dakota, a top tennis establishment, for the upcoming academic year.
Coach Derek Croll, Talent and Performance Coordinator with Tennis Scotland from 2008-2017, recalls that, looking back, there were clear comparisons to be made with a young Andy Murray, a three-time grand slam champion.
“Every now and again a player comes along who you think could really be headed for great things," said Croll.
“Emma was one of those. I’m thinking today it was like when I actually played against a very young Andy in the (annual) North Berwick tournament. I just had a feeling then Andy was destined to be special.”