As Victor Lilov’s backhand sailed over the baseline on match-point, 17-year-old Samir Banerjee dropped his racquet, put both his hands on his head in disbelief as if to say that this was not what he expected to do but still accomplished.
“I never thought I could win Wimbledon,” Banerjee told News18 Bangla’s Eron Roy Burman in an exclusive chat.
The Indo-American tennis player, hailing from New Jersey on Sunday was crowned Wimbledon boys’ singles champion as he beat his compatriot 7-5 6-3 in the summit clash that lasted one hour 22 minutes.
This was only his second Junior Grand Slam outing, with the first one being the French Open from where he was ousted in the very first round.
“After losing French open I thought I would not make it. It feels great now, I am confident about my future in Tennis.”
Banerjee broke his rival thrice and dropped serve only once in a facile win. “I always enjoy my tennis and I love to play under pressure,” he added.
The youngster, reportedly, will take a break from the tour to enroll for a degree in either economics or political science at the Columbia University in the coming months.
Banerjee on Sunday joined Yuki Bhambri (2009 Australian Open), Ramesh Krishnan (French Open and Wimbledon 1979) and Ramanathan Krishnan (Wimbledon 1954) to have won Junior Grand Slam titles. Also in this list is Leander Paes, who won Wimbledon 1990 and US Open 1991 juniors title.
Coincidentally, Paes is Samir’s inspiration and he is elated to see his name beside the legend hmself. “Leander Paes is my inspiration whatever he has done is history it feels great to see my name in the same list.”
Paes is not the only Kolkata connection Banerjee is proud of. His father was born in Assam, and his mother was brought up in Andhra Pradesh before both migrated to the USA in the mid-1980s and got married there. But he has his extended family here in the City of Joy and been to Kolkata in 2015 when he played at the famous South Club.
Confessing his love for the city, Samir said, “I have loved Kolkata people are very loving , people welcomed me there with open arms. They allowed me to play in Kolkata and I love fish fry ,misti doi and Rosogolla.”
(With PTI Inputs)