British tennis star Emma Raducanu was always “heading for great things”, her teachers have said, as the teenager prepares to begin her second week at Wimbledon.
Eighteen-year-old Raducanu is Britain’s last hope in the singles draw and has always been “focused, determined and hard-working” on and off the court, according to staff at Newstead Wood School in Orpington, Kent.
Screens have been set up at the school, where Raducanu is a pupil, to allow staff and students to watch her take on Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in the fourth round match on Monday afternoon.
Staff and club members will also be watching next door at Bromley Tennis club, where she played regularly from the age of nine to 16, before moving on to train at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, south-west London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among those expressing support for Raducanu online and wishing her luck ahead of the game.
He tweeted: “Congratulations @EmmaRaducanu for reaching the second week at @Wimbledon and for making Championship history.
“Good luck in your match today. The country is behind you.”
Alan Blount, headteacher of Newstead School, said she was “in the zone” and “loving every minute” of the tournament.
“Emma has been with us since year seven when she was 11 years old and she’s always been tipped for great things,” Mr Blount told the PA news agency.
“Obviously you can’t look into the future and you don’t know if it is going to come good, but we knew she was heading for great things.
“If everything was right she was going to be the next big thing and look, here she is.”
The teenager became the youngest British woman to make it to the second week at SW19 in the open era with a 6-3 7-5 win over world number 45 Sorana Cirstea on Saturday.
Raducanu, who is ranked 338 in the world and was handed a wild card, put her tennis career on hold during the coronavirus pandemic in order to concentrate on her A-Levels.
She was born in Toronto in 2002 to a Chinese mother and Romanian father and the family moved over to England when she was two.
Despite only making her first WTA Tour main draw appearance last month at the Nottingham Open, she has had previous success in youth competitions.
Her PE teacher Sarah Eells, said it was “very emotional” watching Raducanu “achieve her dream” and that the teenager was a “role model and an inspiration” to other pupils.
“I’m so proud and it’s very emotional how we feel just seeing her achieve her dream and show her skill,” she said.
“She fully deserves it and her hard work is paying off.
“Her mindset is so strong and she is very focused and determined. I believe she has all the qualities of an elite sportswoman.
“I 100% think she is made for this and she will go all the way.
“The shots that she’s pulling off are just outstanding. How she’s finished them off and coped with the pressure is incredible.
“I’m quite blown away with what she is achieving but it shows her character on court… but that’s just her as a person.
“No drama or ego, she’s just very hard-working and dedicated.
“She’s an absolute role model and inspiration. The buzz that we’ve got that’s going on for the students, the staff and the past students is amazing.”
Raducanu has insisted that she is focused on her tennis career, and has juggled matches with schoolwork this year during the pandemic – choosing not to travel abroad for lower level tournaments.
Mr Blount said her passion for the sport had been allowed “to shine through” and that her conduct was similar on and off the court.
“She’s showing all of the traits we’ve seen in the last seven years on the tennis court that we’ve seen in the classroom,” he said.
“She’s conducting herself really well, she’s in the zone, she’s performing brilliantly and she’s got the mental mindset that she needs to go all the way.
“The biggest thing for us is that she’s loving every minute and that passion is shining through.”
The teenager recently told the Evening Standard newspaper she would choose getting to the next stage of the world-famous tennis tournament over getting A-star grades in her A-levels.
But Mr Blount said: “We’ve got every confidence that she can do both, this isn’t an either/or.”
He added that multiple screens had been set up at the school for the match on Monday afternoon and children were being allowed to watch Raducanu play in their classrooms.
“It’s really nice to be part of that excitement and we’re all behind her,” he said.
“The sun is shining, the students are in really good spirits and it’s a really nice boost at the end of term.”