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Northwood's teenage talent Borna Coric to face Andy Murray in Davis Cup just days after winning Junior US Open
Northwood's fast-emerging Croatian talent Borna Coric will face Andy Murray in the Davis Cup tomorrow, just days after winning the Junior US Open.
Coric, 16, is enrolled on the Junior Tennis Coaching (JTC) programme at Northwood’s Health and Racquet Club and is currently ranked number 525 in the world.
Having won his first junior Grand Slam title in New York on Monday, beating Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the final, Coric has now been handed a mouth-watering tie against Murray in the opening rubber of this weekend’s Davis Cup World Group play-off.
“I don't think I can win – only if he injures himself,” Coric said when asked about the possibility of playing the Wimbledon champion.
“I haven’t played a five-set match, so if I’m playing it’s going to be tough.”
Coric was selected in the Croatia squad earlier this week and with number one Marin Cilic and number three Ivo Karlovic both absent, was a shock inclusion in the final team of four.
The teenager divides up his training between Zagreb and Northwood depending on his tournament schedule but has a British coach, Ryan Jones.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the biggest match of his career so far,” Jones said. “This year has just been amazing, it’s been huge both for him as a player and me as a coach.
“I haven’t been able to speak to him yet but he’ll be excited – probably a bit nervous too – but more excited and I know he’ll be very much up for the challenge.
“We were joking about it before, saying how great it would be if he got to play Murray and he was up for it, he was really up for it.”
So unexpected was the call-up that Jones had already booked a holiday to America, expecting Coric to be taking some time off after the US Open.
Whatever the result, Jones insists the match will be a great learning experience for his protegee.
“What he will be interested in seeing is what the diffrerences are – to see how big the gap is at the moment, what’s the difference in the pace, the consistency and the fitness?
“I’m gutted to be missing it but he'll be fine, he enjoys the pressure and I’m sure he’ll take it all in his stride.”
Croatia and Great Britain are playing for a place in the competition’s World Group next year and Coric could carry the hopes of a nation on his shoulders if the tie goes down to the final rubber, when he faces Britain’s second singles player Dan Evans.
Coric landed in Northwood 18 months ago after being recommended to JTC by Tim Henman’s former coach David Felgate, who leads the programme and coaches fellow Croatian Donna Vekic.
The centre currently nurtures around 16 young British players alongside a handful of up and coming foreign stars, of which Coric is certainly one.
Before his junior success at the US Open, Coric had already reached the semi-finals of the Australian and French Opens and the quarters at Wimbledon this year.
“I think he has the potential to be one of the top ten players in the world,” Jones said.
“Of course you never know but I think if he gets things right he has the potential.
“I genuinely believe tennis has become one of the toughest sports out there to excel in but in terms of his future, he can definitely be a world class player.”
Jones says Coric has a certain “Croatian fire inside him” and needs to work on his temperament but he also likes to learn off the best.
Fellow Croatian and former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic is a regular confidante and Rafael Nadal’s habit of superstitiously positioning water bottles at the change of ends has also rubbed off on the youngster.
“I’m a big fan of Rafa Nadal and he uses these types of technique and I think Borna is trying to find his way of doing things to keep focused and keep control over his emotions,” Jones said.
Coric’s success is another strong endorsement for the work being done at Northwood under the leadership of Felgate who coaches alongside world number four Jo Durie and Durie’s former coach Alan Jones.
“It’s a great endorsement for the centre, it’s great for JTC and I think already the programme is growing and there’s more and more players interested,” Jones added.
“Success like Borna’s makes a big difference – it gives the other kids a belief in what they’re doing and that suddenly increases their appetite to get better.
“They see someone close to them doing well and it makes them work harder.”
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