Welsh tennis coach shares his pride as Raducanu faces US Open final
As Emma Raducanu prepares to play the match of her life in the final of the US Open, a Welsh tennis coach has spoken of his pride at having been part of her team.
Tennis coach Matt James oversaw Raducanu’s progress for two years until last autumn and said a number of coaches who helped Raducanu improve her game.
The 18-year-old takes on fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez later today and has her sights set on becoming the first British woman to win a grand slam in 44 years.
Raducanu is the first qualifier in Open Era history to reach a Grand Slam final and her meteoric progress in New York has captivated the nation
Matt, from Sychdyn, told the Leader: “I was lucky enough to do two years with Emma and we had different people coming in, almost consultants and people that would give their advice, and that’s just how they wanted it. Her dad and Emma just wanted the knowledge.
“She’s a bright girl and she can remember it and process it, and almost seeing it as the more the better rather than hearing the same thing over and over. They’ve stuck to their guns, which you’ve got to respect because it’s obviously worked out pretty well for them.”
Matt, a former pupil at Maes Garmon was part of Raducanu’s team at Wimbledon and has been watching her performances from home.
He is now National Tennis Centre coach for the Lawn Tennis Association, which supports Raducanu through its Pro Scholarship Programme.
He said: “Just immensely proud watching her play and compete like she’s doing. It’s almost too much now. Going into the final it’s almost making it too much to believe.
“Up until then it’s kind of like, ‘Yeah, Emma is a pretty special talent’, but now saying out loud that she is in a grand slam final is just really bizarre and just more than we all expected I think.
“We knew that the tennis was there but to keep going physically and mentally for nine matches now (including qualifiers) is just quite incredible for her and the team that’s out there with her.”
Emma Raducanu’s shot at US Open glory will be available to watch on free-to-air television after Amazon Prime agreed a deal with Channel 4 to share the women’s final on Saturday.
The match will start at 9pm (UK) with coverage beginning at 8pm.
Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service has had exclusive broadcast rights in this country for the final grand slam of the year, but has agreed a deal – understood by the PA news agency to be seven figures – for the match to be shown on both Prime Video and Channel 4, maximising the viewing potential for one of the biggest sporting stories of the year.
It has pledged to reinvest that money into British women’s tennis to help fund the next generation of players.
“Emma’s journey from qualification through to the US Open final at the age of 18 is a truly magical story for British sport and we think it’s important that we extend our coverage to as many people as possible to support her in this historic moment for women’s tennis,” said Alex Green, managing director of Prime Video Sport Europe.
“Young tennis talent such as Emma need the right support to become the stars we see today and we’re delighted to be able to commit even more investment to the next generation of women’s tennis in the UK.”
Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz said: “Emma’s meteoric rise to secure a place in the US Open final is just sensational.
“We’re glad to have worked with Prime Video and pulled out all the stops to get it on air and I’m sure viewers will be thrilled at the prospect of watching Emma in this grand slam final.”