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Samir Banerjee has become the first Indian-American player to win a Grand Slam boys’ singles title, beating compatriot Viktor Lilov 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 21 minutes in the final at the Wimbledon championships.
Samir, 17, suffered a wobble while serving for the opening set at 5-3 and lost his serve, allowing Viktor to level scores at 5-5. However, he regrouped himself and won the next two games to pocket the first set. He again raced through the second set, breaking his opponent’s serve in the sixth game to take 4-2 lead.
Viktor broke back in the next game, raising hopes of another fight back. But Samir did not give him that opportunity and sealed victory by winning the next game. The Wimbledon final marked the first all-American final since 2014.
Though Indian-American players like Prakash Amritraj and his cousin Stephen Amritraj have played on the circuit and won some titles too, Samir is the first to win the boys singles title at a Grand Slam.
Four Indians — Ramanathan Krishnan, Ramesh Krishnan, Leander Paes and Yuki Bhambri — have won the boys’ singles title at Grand Slam events.
A future men’s champion?
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 11, 2021
Samir, from Basking Ridge in New Jersey, started playing tennis at the age of six. He has committed to play for Columbia University in the autumn and draws inspiration from several players who took the college tennis route before.
“Growing up, I think college was always in the picture, I was going to use tennis to get to college. Obviously trying to play at the highest level I could and then go to college and maybe after college try to go pro. I think I didn’t really expect this,” he said of his run to the Wimbledon junior final.
Though he made it to the final of one of the most prestigious tennis tournament sin the world, Samir said he still wants to go to college.
“I’m really happy with my commitment to Columbia, the coaches there I’m really buying into their vision. I think it’s a really good stepping stone. Obviously with Indian parents, they definitely want me to go to college and not just skip the whole… and just go right to pros. And I think it would be a good character-building kind of thing, because I’m not sure if I’m fully ready to just fully go pro yet, so as of right now, I’m still probably going to go to college,” he told the official website of Wimbledon.
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