How Cam Norrie made it to Wimbledon after playing with squash racket

Come on, Cam… serve us up an SW19 semi-final! How Cameron Norrie came to thrill Wimbledon crowds… after first playing tennis aged four with a squash racket on an ‘imaginary court’ next to his Johannesburg home

  • Cameron Norrie is the last Briton left in the Wimbledon Championship 2022
  • The 26-year-old looked calm cycling to practice ahead of his quarter final match
  • He started playing tennis aged four with a ‘cut down squash racket’ at home 

He appeared calm today but when Cameron Norrie steps on to Court One at Wimbledon tomorrow, he’ll feel the full weight of the nation’s hopes.

The last Briton standing in the championship will face Belgian David Goffin in his first ever quarter-finals appearance at SW19.

And while the 26-year-old British hopeful looked relaxed as he cycled to the All England Club for practice today, he admitted last night: ‘It’s always going to be a lot of pressure and a lot of people watching what’s going on.

‘There are a lot of emotions right now, but the tournament’s still going on. So, not satisfied yet and want to keep pushing for more.’

He enjoyed the biggest win of his career on Sunday when he beat American Tommy Paul in straight sets to the delight of the crowd and became the first British man to reach the quarter finals since Sir Andy Murray in 2017.

Relaxed: Cameron Norrie on his bike today ahead of his Wimbledon quarter final tomorrow

Cameron Norries’s girlfriend Louise Jacobi celebrates his straight sets win on no1 court at the Wimbledon Championship 2022

Born to British parents in Johannesburg, he first started playing tennis aged four with a cut-down squash racket on an ‘imaginary court’ next to his home.

His mother Helen, 59, a biochemist from Cardiff, said: ‘He wanted to play all the time.’ When he was still a child, the family left South Africa and moved to Auckland, where his mother and Glasgow-born father David – also a biochemist – still live.

They noticed their left-handed son had talent and he went into a coaching programme, reaching the top 10 junior ranking worldwide.

He eventually switched allegiance to his parents’ homeland and when he was 16 he came alone to the LTA’s national training centre in Roehampton, London.

After three years, he won a scholarship to go Texas Christian College in Fort Worth, Texas, studying sociology alongside his tennis.

But in 2016, a night out at a bar ended with six stitches in his chin after he crashed a moped.

Cam’s mother Helen said he want to play ‘all the time’ when he was younger

He was axed from the team to play in a second-tier ATP Challenger tournament and was also threatened with expulsion.

This week he described the moment as a ‘turning point’, saying: ‘The coaches kicked me into gear and I was more professional after that. I grew up a lot.’

He went on to become the No 1 ranked US college player before turning professional in 2017.

He made his debut for Britain’s Davis Cup team the next year and in January 2019 he reached his first ATP final. Despite being established in the top 100 singles ranking, however, Norrie was still flying below the radar.

But the suspension of international tours during the pandemic offered him a unique opportunity to put in plenty of hard work.

During three months of seclusion – without the company of his new girlfriend, US textiles consultant Louise Jacobi – the rising star returned to the game with a new sense of purpose.

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Actor Mark Rylance and wife Claire van Kampen made the most of the sun

His family say Miss Jacobi, who has been by side throughout the championships, has also had a positive impact on him. She admitted she was so new to tennis when she met Norrie that she barely knew the rules.

His parents have warmed to the New Yorker and joined them in his player’s box today.

His mother said: ‘She has a calm about her. I think she’s been good for him and they are able to talk about other things away from the court. Cameron is a bright boy and you have got to have other interests in life otherwise you would go mad.’

The British No 1 spent an hour on the practice courts at SW19 today after cycling the 10 minutes to the grounds.

Despite being worth around £3million, he said he does not have a car and would rather avoid the traffic by cycling. He told ITV last night it has been great to spend time with his parents, who were unable to leave New Zealand during the pandemic.

But he added that Sunday’s triumph ‘was probably pretty stressful for them’.

Tomorrow’s match is likely to be ‘pretty stressful’ not just for them but for fans across the country.

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