EAST Londoners perusing the results of the opening day of Wimbledon last week would have read a short account of how Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France made short work of Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. No surprise there, they would have concluded.
I would be surprised, though, if anyone knew of the East London connection in this match.
Fancied players like Tsonga, ranked 10 in the world and a two-time Wimbledon runner-up, generally breeze through the opening salvos of a grand slam tournament without breaking a sweat. But spare a thought for their opponents, many of whom are debutants, who have to face these leviathans of the courts on the first day of a major tournament.
They have to be tennis players of the highest calibre to even set foot on the hallowed courts of Wimbledon and Cameron Norrie is one of them.
The East London connection? Young Norrie happens to be the grandson of Glyn Williams, a former editor of the Daily Dispatch whom many people on the Border will remember as a prominent member of the Border squash and road-running fraternity.
Glyn retired from the editorial chair in 1993 and he and wife, Joan, subsequently left South Africa to be closer to family in Australasia.
Glyn, Joan and their young family arrived in East London in 1966 after then editor of the Dispatch, Donald Woods, had persuaded Glyn to join the Dispatch from the Western Mail, a large morning newspaper in Cardiff where Glyn was chief sub-editor. Glyn accepted on the strict understanding that it would be on a three-month trial period. He stayed 27 years!
Glyn and Joan’s daughters – Sian, Claire and Helen – were schooled at Clarendon. Helen, the younger of the three girls and Cameron’s mother, excelled at racquet sports, captaining her school team and Border at squash and later represented the University of Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Province.
Helen later met and married David Norrie, a sportsman in his own right, representing Scotland as a regional tennis and cycling champion. The family emigrated to New Zealand when their son Cameron was still a toddler.
Growing up in New Zealand, ambidextrous Cameron showed an early aptitude for ball games and chose to concentrate on tennis from the age of six. Encouraged by his sporting parents, he won many New Zealand titles throughout his junior and high school career emerging as the nation’s top junior.
Lack of financial support from NZ tennis, Cameron, by virtue of holding a British passport, accepted a UK offer of funding and coaching at Roehampton Tennis Centre and went on to win several Challenger and Future tournaments.
He was offered and accepted a tennis scholarship from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, later becoming America’s No1 college player and being elected an All American twice – a singular honour for any sporting amateur. He turned professional earlier this year.
His grandfather Glyn says Cameron’s approach has always been mature, positive, competitive and dedicated.
“I have seen him get up daily at the crack of dawn to train before school, returning home with his face pinched white with fatigue.”
Note the name Cameron Norrie – one to watch and you read it first in the GO & Express!