So it was a conspiciously good omen for British tennis yesterday when the English pairing of James Trotman, aged 16, and Martin Lee, aged 17, won through to the finals - the first Britons ever to do so - by beating an older, much more fancied American duo, Justin Gimelstob and Ryan Wolters, 6-4 2-6 6-3.
The physical advantages enjoyed by the 18-year-old Americans went for nothing as the two rather ungainly but utterly spirited Brits played with great skill and strategic awareness. They are both products of the Lawn Tennis Association/Rover Junior Tennis Initiative which coaches promising boys and girls in residence at Bisham Abbey. Indeed Lee was among the first intake in 1990, and yesterday's result will have done a great deal for the morale of the school.
Lee, from Worthing, had already reached the quarter- finals of the junior singles here and, the slight but aggressive Trotman, who has just emerged from five months off with glandular fever, actually proved the more reliable server, and his movement around the court and his fierce double-fisted backhand was a constant threat.
The English took the first set 6-4, but the Americans broke back immediately in the first game of the second set which they took 6-2. They looked to have the winning momentum in the final set, with Lee tottering at 0-40 on his own serve, but the British boys dug in, saved the game and then took a 4-0 lead.
Their tennis now was just about as convincing as it could get at this level, with Trotman finding all kinds of angles with his volleys, and Lee punching his strong ground-strokes down the American flanks. With Wolters and then Gimelstob broken, victory seemed a formality, but the English boys wobbled in sight of the winning post, allowing the Americans back to 5-3. The tension even got to the coaches and relatives in the stands, producing a petty spat. Lee came under more pressure at 15-40, but his good serve and Trotman's speed at the net, forced enough American mistakes to send the British players through to today's final.
Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge, the Australian pair, won the men's doubles title yesterday evening, beating the unseeded American team, Rick Leach and Scott Melville, 7-5 7-6 7-6. It is the third year in succession that the "Woodies" have won the Wimbledon doubles title. The only other pair to have achieved this in the Open era are their fellow Australians, John Newcombe and Tony Roche, from 1968 to 1970.