Taylor climbs to top of the rankings

Top tennis prospect Lucas Taylor has become the new British No1 at Under-12 level

Top tennis prospect Lucas Taylor has become the new British No1 at Under-12 level after his triumph at last week's Winter Grand Prix Masters vaulted him to the top of the national rankings.

Taylor, who lives in Barnet Grove, Tower Hamlets, was dubbed the East End's answer to Tim Henman following his first international call-up last year.

Now he has continued his stunning progress in 2009 by defeating Jonathan Gray, from Yorkshire, in straight sets to win the Roehampton tournament.

The Hackney City Tennis Club product had been seeded third for the competition at the National Tennis Centre in south London following a series of successful


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display in three Winter Grand Prix

events.

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And after top seed Daniel Little made a shock first-round exit, Taylor battled through to the final before brushing aside Gray 6-2, 6-1 to lift the trophy - a victory that will see him installed as the country's new No1 when the rankings are updated this month.

"I was very excited and happy to win," Taylor said after his final victory.

"I felt I played well throughout the weekend, but I definitely saved my best tennis for the final."

The Winter Grand Prix Masters features the country's top-16 players in each age category and Taylor successfully negotiated his way through three rounds of qualifiers to reach the final.

Following a straightforward 6-2, 6-2 first-round win over Wiltshire's Sebastien Butler, the Great Britain youth international was forced to battle through a pair of difficult tests as both his second-round and semi-final matches went to a tie-break decider.

Current Wales No1 Matthew Kamal proved a tricky opponent in the second round as Taylor dropped the first set 3-6 before fighting back to take the second set 6-2 and going on to win the tie-break 10-6.

Yet Taylor's semi-final opponent proved even tougher.

Despite winning the opening set 6-4 against Bjorn Thomson, from Warwickshire, Taylor was pegged back in the second set and a marathon tie-break ensued.

Both players had opportunities to take a decisive advantage, but Taylor held his nerve to prevail 11-9 and reach the final, where he swept past Yorkshire opponent Gray to take the title.

Taylor added that he owed a big debt of thanks to his coach Christian Coombs, who travels with him to most tournaments, and the Hackney City club, while also expressing his gratitude to his parents and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

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