Tennis: Ilkley Tennis Club ace makes his point

EYE ON THE BALL: Euan Wilson-Baig.

EYE ON THE BALL: Euan Wilson-Baig.

0
Have your say

When Ilkley Tennis Club’s Euan Wilson-Baig became Yorkshire number one it proved a point – that the 11-year-old was seriously talented and could compete with the best without funding.

It also proved that the youngster made the right decision to ditch cricket and football in pursuit of becoming the next Rafael Nadal.

Wilson-Baig, who lives in Halifax, trains at Ilkley five times a week and the gruelling schedule has paid dividends afterhe became Yorkshire’s number one for 12-year-olds and under on December 30.

The Brooksbank Sports College student has since been leapfrogged by another starlet – Leeds youngster Aaron Yang – but it’s safe to say that Wilson-Baig is intent on regaining pole position, with winning Wimbledon no less the long-term ultimate aim.

Finest

The youngster is clearly some way off from achieving that goal but he has certainly got talent, the finest tennis moment yet coming when he landed a national green-ball event in Nottingham last year.

And he’s also got the right tennis equipment – Wilson-Baig having been awarded a national contract with Babolat, which supplies the rackets for Nadal.

Admitting that emulating his Spanish hero would be the ultimate ambition, Wilson-Baig told LS1: “I have always had a dream of winning Wimbledon.

“And to become world number one would be a really good thing as well.

“For me, to become Yorkshire number one was a bit of a milestone because I was the only non-funded player in the top 14.

“To become number one was just like showing them what I can actually do.

“I have had to say no to certain sports in my life and doing that has been tough, but I had to go with which sport I like the best and how well I was doing in it.

“Hopefully I have made the right decision.”

It certainly looks that way but Wilson-Baig was somewhat better than your average kid at both cricket and in particular football.

Growing up in Norwich before moving to the Leeds area a few years ago, Wilson-Baig was once on the books at Norwich City FC and has also played for Huddersfield Town’s development and elite squad.

He was then invited to attend Bolton Wanderers’ under-10s development squad but declined the invitation in favour of tennis.

However, football remains deep in the Liverpool fan’s blood.

“I remember kicking a football and just crawling to it when I was about one,” said Wilson-Baig.

“I have always played football and my dad always thought it was going to be football, football, football, but then, when I was about seven, my brother was playing a bit of tennis and there was a tennis-after-school club at my old school.

“he just said ‘go on then’ and put me in. That was at Eton Primary in Norwich and that’s where it all began.”

That talent is now blossoming in Yorkshire with Wilson-Baig taking a busy schedule that combines school work and tennis commitments in his stride.

Quickly shovelling down a bowl of pasta during a 30-minute break at Ilkley, the youngster said: “I really enjoy sport and it gives you something to do in your spare time.

Busy

“I always like to be doing something and like to be busy.”

“I also like watching tennis but it’s nice to just get out and do something!

“Sometimes I take it a bit easy but most of the time I am on the court, working really hard.”

Working hard in a bid to follow the examples of his tennis inspirations – Roger Federer and Nadal.

Given that he now uses the same type of rackets as the Spaniard, it comes as no surprise to learn that Nadal is Wilson-Baig’s “number one”.

“Federer had always been my absolute favourite because I just love his gracefulness on the court,” said the youngster.

“But I have always liked Nadal and he is now my favourite player. I feel like I can play like him on the court.

“I also dress like him a lot!”

Now Wilson-Baig hopes he is well on the way to following in his footsteps.

Umpire Arnaud Gabas, of France, holds ice to his face after being hit in the eye by a ball.

Davis Cup drama: Umpire injured by teenager as Yorkshire’s Kyle Edmund helps GB to victory