Cavaday enjoys her day in the sun
Wednesday 05 July 2006
There were what Jane Austen would have described as zigzags of embarrassment yesterday as Naomi Cavaday, a promising British junior player, prepared to be asked the question that is asked of all promising British junior players as soon as they start to show even faint evidence of achievement.
"British women players have underachieved for the last 30 years," the questioner began as the 17-year-old who completed her GCSEs at Bromley High School last summer began to flinch in anticipation. "Could you be the person to change that round?"
It was, to be fair, a rather nice way of asking what animates all followers of the British game, particularly on the day after the last domestic player had shuffled out of the All England Championships, namely: "When the hell is one of our players ever going to win Wimbledon again?"
Cavaday responded with admirable circumspection. "Well," she said, "we'll have to see." There are indeed many matches to be played and won before the young woman who is now ensconced in the Lawn Tennis Association's performance centre at Queen's Club can contemplate a bronze of her head joining those of former British Wimbledon champions such as Kitty Godfree, Ann Jones and Virginia Wade outside Centre Court.
All that can be said at this stage is she is making the most of her Championships in what is her first year as a full-time professional. She lost 7-5, 6-4 to Ai Sugiyama in the senior first round, and appeared to relish an outing on the No3 showcourt as she reached the third round of the juniors with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 win over Russia's Ksenia Lykina.
After levelling the match at one set all with an ace down the line, Lykina - who with her long blonde hair and tanned legs looked like a miniature version of her compatriot Maria Sharapova - looked the likely winner. But Cavaday - a powerful and determined red-head - imposed her willpower in the deciding set.
The British girl said afterwards she had been making a point of using her experience in the senior draw to intimidate her junior opponent. "It was a massive help to me because I can put them under the kind of pressure I was under against Sugiyama," she said.
Cavaday contemplated following her brother Nick to a tennis scholarship in the United States, but is now convinced that she can make her way on the women's tour.
On a day when Julia Bone and Ed Corrie also progressed in the juniors, 15-year-old Danny Cox went out in the second round against Jaak Poldma, an Estonian two years his senior, who won 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
Cox was born in Lincoln, but you can tell by his bleached-blond eyebrows that he no longer lives there. His parents Mark and Michelle have shaped their lives around his, as he has sought the ideal training regime, in Marbella.
Cox's ambitions extend, thankfully, beyond juniors. He said: "You can be the world No1 junior but it does not mean you are a great player in men's tennis. It's a totally different game." On yesterday's evidence, he has the talent to make that transition.
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