Jack Draper underlined his exciting potential to become the youngest winner of a GB Pro-Series men’s title at The Shrewsbury Club.
The 17-year-old beat Italian Julian Ocleppo, 22, in straight sets in front of a big crowd to be crowned the Budgen Motors ITF World Tour M25 Shrewsbury tournament champion.
Draper, from Surrey, is the first British player to win the men’s event in Shrewsbury since Dan Evans, now ranked in the world’s top 50, triumphed in 2013.
This week’s No 1 seed, Draper delivered another excellent display to beat second seed Ocleppo 6-4, 6-0.
“I’ve had a really, really good week,” said Draper, who is supported by the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme. “I’ve come through five rounds, got lucky in one of them, the semis.
“I’ve been fortunate, but also at the same time played some really good tennis and I’m happy obviously to get the win.”
It’s Draper’s third $25,000 ITF title since July following victories at Roehampton and Chiswick for the 2018 boys’ singles finalist at Wimbledon.
“Hopefully now I’ll move on to Challengers and we’ll see how I do,” he added. “It will be a good challenge, but my level’s definitely there. It’s just whether I can adjust quickly.”
Dave Courteen, the managing director of The Shrewsbury Club, was delighted with the quality of the final.
“It was a brilliant match and one of the best finals we’ve had at the club,” he said. “The first set was really close and they both played a really high level of tennis.
“Jack Draper is clearly a star in the making and has so much potential while Julian Ocleppo played some very good tennis and it was an excellent match.”
He added: “It’s been another excellent tournament and it’s fantastic for tennis in the county to again be able to attract such a high-quality event.
“A lot of local school children were also involved in the tournament, through the ball crew and an event we held for local schools during the week which proved popular.
“The feedback from the players from across Europe taking part in the tournament is that they’ve loved the welcome they’re received from the town and that always makes you proud.”
Richard Joyner, the tournament director for the LTA, hailed the quality of the event and thanked the team at The Shrewsbury Club for their support.
“We’ve had another great week here at Shrewsbury,” he said. “The players in particular are always very happy to come here and they always receive a very warm welcome.
“When the stands go up and the music is played ahead of matches in the last few days of the tournament, it just adds that extra element to the experience for them and I know they’re fully appreciative of that.”
He added it had been a successful week for many British players as they continue to progress.
“It’s been a very good week for British players on a number of counts,” reflected Joyner. “It’s been very good for Jack Draper to make the final and win it while it was impressive to have an all-British doubles final.
“A few players have also got their ATP ranking for the first time.
“Felix Gill, who was a wild card in qualifying, has done that, so has Arthur Fery, a wild card in main draw, while Finn Murgett, who was a wild card through winning the Junior National Championships, also achieved that.
“Tom Hands, who came through qualifying and won a round in the main draw, was another to do well.
“It was also a good week for Luke Johnson. He’s made the latter stages of quite a few doubles events, so he’s got to be pleased to have made the semi-finals of the singles in a $25,000 tournament and will hope to push on from that.”
This week’s Shrewsbury tournament, part of an expanded international calendar of tournaments being staged by the LTA in Britain this year, provides a showcase for tennis outside of the traditional summer grass court season and opening up the sport to more fans around the country.
The move is also part of the LTA’s new long-term Performance Strategy, and aims to provide more opportunities for British players to compete, earn ranking points and win prize money in the UK.
The next professional tournament at The Shrewsbury Club will be a $60,000 women’s event starting on March 30.
Pictured: Jack Draper was crowned champion of the Budgen Motors ITF World Tour M25 Shrewsbury tournament. Picture: Richard Dawson Photography.