LONDON – Indian American Samir Banerjee won the boys' singles title, beating Viktor Lilov 7-5, 6-3 in an all-American final at the Wimbledon championships July 11.
Banerjee, who reached the final by beating France's Sascha Gueymard Wayenburg in the semi-finals, is the first American junior champion at Wimbledon since Reilly Opelka in 2015, and 12th overall.
Banerjee, who is from New Jersey, and Lilov traded serves in the first set in the clash of two 17-year-olds before the Indian American won two consecutive games from 5-5 to take the set.
In the second set, Banerjee broke his opponent's serve in the sixth game and went on to win it 6-3, completing his triumph in one hour and 21 minutes, when Lilov made a backhand error.
Banerjee is committed to playing for Columbia University in the fall and draws inspiration from several players who took the college tennis route to success before.
"Growing up, I think college was always in the picture, I was going to use tennis to get to college. Obviously trying to play at the highest level I could and then go to college and maybe after college try to go pro. I think I didn't really expect this," he told the Wimbledon official website after his semi-final victory.
"I'm really happy with my commitment to Columbia, the coaches there I'm really buying into their vision. I think it's a really good stepping stone. Obviously, with Indian parents, they definitely want me to go to college and not just skip the whole…and just go right to pros. And I think it would be a good character-building kind of thing, because I'm not sure if I'm fully ready to just fully go pro yet, so as of right now, I'm still probably going to go to college," he had said.
The 17-year-old right-hander from New Jersey beat Wayenburg 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-2 in two minutes short of two hours in their semi-final encounter.
It was superb performance from Banerjee, who is 19th in the ITF junior rankings as of July 5, 2021, as he sent down seven aces as compared to three by Wayenburg, and earned 67% points on first serve compared to 57% by his French rival.
Banerjee, who started playing tennis at the age of six, made 27 unforced errors as compared to 33 by Wayenburg, who struggled with his serve and sent down 11 double faults. Banerjee had just four double faults.
And what was impressive was that Banerjee, who is from Basking Ridge in New Jersey, could produce such a performance on Court No. 1, one of the show courts at the All-England Club.
"It was crazy, that's definitely the biggest crowd I've played in front of. And I think I had the crowd support for the most part, so that was an amazing experience, and then to win on top of that is something I'll remember forever," Banerjee told the official website.