TENNIS star Jonny Marray stunned the sporting world by being crowned Wimbledon doubles champion — but six years ago he was turning out in Pershore.
Marray became Britain’s first men’s doubles champion at Wimbledon for 76 years on Saturday when the 31-year-old and Danish partner Freddie Nielsen beat fifth seeds Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 on centre court.
The achievement was made even more remarkable given that the pair had never even reached the final of an ATP World Tour event and needed a wildcard to compete at SW19.
Sheffield-based Marray, however, is used to more humble surroundings and in 2006 was part of the Pershore Tennis Centre squad that reached the National Premier League doubles final.
He was drafted in by then coaches Andy Banks and Richard Crabtree, a Yorkshire county colleague of Marray, and represented the club against Next Generation Dudley with David Sherwood, another white rose player.
Teams were allowed to select players from other counties and Pershore went on to reach the final, losing to Royal Berkshire.
Ian Johnson, Pershore chairman at the time, said: “He came to our club and hit with some of our players and was really pleasant.
“I just remember him as a real down-to-earth friendly guy. He was a very good player but didn’t have an ego.
“He was a talented player but he had some injury problems which restricted his progress. He was always a good mover on the court and a good volleyer with quick reactions.”
Victories over Liverpool, Cambridge and Loughborough University saw Pershore progress to the final of the 12-strong event on Teeside in 2006, losing 3-1 to Royal Berkshire.
However, Marray, who won £130,000 for his Wimbledon triumph and is almost certain to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London this November, was unable to play in the later rounds of the competition due to injury.
As for having links with a Wimbledon champion, Johnson added: “It’s an amazing story because at the highest level he was hardly known at all and won Wimbledon with a wildcard.”