Cameron Norrie: modern day Cinderella tennis hopeful | Ally Fogg

With a crisp mid-riff-baring white shirt and black shoes, the British tennis player looks like a man preparing for a glamorous night out at the club. The reality is quite different. Norrie is a…

Cameron Norrie: modern day Cinderella tennis hopeful | Ally Fogg

With a crisp mid-riff-baring white shirt and black shoes, the British tennis player looks like a man preparing for a glamorous night out at the club.

The reality is quite different. Norrie is a tennis struggler.

“I like to dress for my body,” he tells me in the good-natured slang of a would-be sportsman.

He is in Birmingham this week, a few miles from the grass courts of the 11 National Tennis Centre. It is where the British are carving out a sport which now has its own second home, next to Wimbledon.

Cameron Norrie, a former college tennis player at Rice University. Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA

For a country of 27m that likes to bask in a big sporting victory, British tennis is something of a Cinderella story.

In recent years the population has witnessed a rise in juniors like Norrie who have the stamina to compete with the best in the world. But it is the emergence of “hobbyists” like Norrie who is slowly changing how sport is seen as a sport in Britain.

With Wimbledon in full swing, Norrie has been deciding what to do next. He is shortlisted to represent Britain at next year’s Davis Cup, Europe-Africa Zone match in Sweden. That is exciting. But the important thing is what he wants to do now: enjoy the clay courts of Birmingham and enjoy spending time with his family.

Norrie, 21, who was born in Girona, Barcelona, is realistic about a career in tennis. It will be a journey. He played a brief and mysterious cameo at the US Open, the first round, before deciding to pack his bag and move to Britain.

He didn’t know a soul in London, a situation that was much improved by his decision to buy a flat in the East End.

“Everyone’s kind of friends there,” he says. “I didn’t want to be somebody who was living at home. I wanted my life to be as on track as possible.”

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