A Latics-supporting tennis ace is climbing the ranks with a ringing endorsement from Andy Murray.
Jack Draper hopes to have the world at his feet by making it as a tennis pro – and despite being just 13 years old is already on the way to realising his dream.
Currently ranked No.2 in Europe for his age group – and on the cusp of breaking into the top 1,000 under-18s in the world, Murray’s nod to the youngster will be taken in his stride according to dad Roger.
“Although he’s always under pressure he manages it pretty well,” said the Warrington Wolves chief executive, on Murray picking Jack as a future prospect when asked at a press conference during the French Open.
He joked: “I don’t know if it has helped him or not!”
Despite being from Surrey, Jack has strong links to Wigan. As well as being a Wigan Athletic fan, he travels up regularly to see family, with his dad originally being from Upholland.
Ranked No.1 at his age group in Great Britain, he has been playing tennis since the age of three, and has a National Junior Championship, World under-10s Championship and under-12s European Championship to his name.
“He goes all over the world,” explained Roger when asked about his son’s demanding schedule.
“Tennis is very gladiatorial – there are no team-mates backing you up and nowhere to hide.
“Jack has played in many Davis Cup-type atmospheres at junior level, and the home crowd can be really intimidating – but he deals with it with such maturity and just gets on with his game.”
Jack devotes 25 hours a week to training and has a rigid physical programme which includes strength and conditioning and yoga sessions.
Coached by mum Nicki, he has a busy schedule for the rest of the year.
He will travel to Czechoslovakia with the Great Britain team to take part in the International Junior Indoor Championship before events in Luxembourg and Bosnia.
He will then finish-off the year by travelling to Florida for competitions including the Orange Bowl in autumn.
But Jack’s sporting prowess doesn’t stop with tennis.
He was a promising footballer before the increasing demands of tennis forced him to make a decision – and was on the books at Chelsea’s academy.
“He’s one of those,” explained Roger.
“He was at Chelsea football academy from the age of 6 but had to make a decision.
“He used to go to Chelsea training in his Wigan kit – they used to joke but – Wigan beat Chelsea (in 2009) and they shut up after that!”