For the first time in his career, JP Smith reached the main draw of a grand slam via qualifying, courtesy of a straight sets victory over Czech veteran Jan Mertl. This will be JP’s 2nd appearance in the main draw of a grand slam, with the previous coming at the 2013 Australian Open as a wild card.
Smith got off to a fast start on the grass courts of Roehampton, taking the first set by a score of 6-1, in just under 30 minutes. Mertl dug in at the start of the second set, as both players produced dominant serving displays. Through the first nine games of the second set, the returner only won a total of two points, resulting in vintage grass court tennis. It was Mertl who blinked first, when, at 5-5, Smith capitalized on the second of two break points. He then promptly served out the set to love, putting himself just one set from the main draw.
With the momentum of the last set behind him, Smith broke Mertl immediately in the 3rd, and the players traded comfortable holds until the sixth game of the set. Here Mertl put up his final resistance, creating his second (and what would prove to be his last) break point of the day. However, Smith saved it and took the final three games to emerge victorious, by a score of 61 75 62.
In JP’s impressive run across three days of qualifying, he dropped only one set, and remarkably, was broken just once. He will now have four days to prepare for the first round, which unlike qualifying, will take place on the hallowed grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. The draw for the Gentlemen’s Singles tournament will take place on Friday at 10:00 a.m. local time, and JP will be one of 11 Australian men in the draw, lining up next to the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
UPDATE: JP played Kenny De Schepper (FRA) in the R128 at Wimbledon. De Schepper was also one of the 16 qualifiers this year. Unfortunately, JP’s bid to advance to the R64 was cut short in a very close five set match. De Schepper won 46 46 764 64 64. There were only four breaks in the entire match.
Congratulations to JP and his current coach, Jacob Meyer, for the hard work and improvement that has resulted in this main draw appearance. JP is grateful for his coach, Cameron Whiting, who has been on leave in Australia most of this year due to a family illness. He is greatly missed on tour. JP’s parents, Kevin and Sue Smith, made a surprise visit to support JP in his final round in qualifying and were able to see him play his main draw match at Wimbledon. Sam Winterbotham, Head Coach at the University of Tennessee and JP’s college coach, was also on hand to see this milestone qualifying victory, as well as the first round main draw match. JP is so grateful for their support, as well as the support of his other friends and family, and all who keep up with him through the website and other means. Looking for more good results to come!
Kevin Smith, JP, Susan Smith
Photo Courtesy: Sam Winterbotham