Newsbeat

Cameron Norrie: The best British tennis player you’ve never heard of

Cameron Norrie Image copyright Getty Images

Cameron Norrie first started playing tennis on his front drive at the age of eight with a sawn-off squash racket.

Now, 15 years later, he's the new British number three and is about to represent his country in the Davis Cup.

But listen to the 22-year-old talk and you might not immediately assume he's Britain's next big tennis star.

Cameron has a recognisable New Zealand accent, having moved to Auckland when he was three.

He represented NZ in junior tennis, but tells Newsbeat: "I consider myself British.

"Both my parents are British. My mum is Welsh and my dad is Scottish, with a filthy Scottish accent.

"I was born in South Africa, moved to New Zealand when I was three, came to London when I was 16 and then went to university in Texas… so I'm from all over the place."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cameron played against Nick Kyrgios in the 2013 Australian Open Junior Championships

Cameron has also come a long way on the tennis court from the days of recycled squash rackets.

In 2016 he was ranked outside the ATP top 1000. He's now 114 in the world, thanks to a string of tournament victories on the Challenger Circuit.

"Everything's just come together, I'm more mature mentally and physically, have got a lot stronger and fitter," he says.

"I think I just believed that I can now mentally stick with these guys. I feel I belong at the top of the game."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption He qualified for his first Grand Slam at the US Open last year and won his first round match after his opponent retired in the second set

Cameron became British number three earlier this year when Aljaz Bedene opted to represent his native Slovenia again.

"I'm feeling very happy with the way things are going right now," he says ahead of leaving for Marbella to play for Great Britain in a Davis Cup tie with Spain.

"I'm very excited. Spain away is going to be sick.

"I just can't wait to get there and show everyone what I've got, I'm going to be a real team player and just enjoy it."

Rafael Nadal has been ruled out of the tie for Spain, but Andy Murray is also missing from the GB team as he recovers from hip surgery.

Image copyright Getty Images

Cameron still believes the 2015 champions have a chance though.

"For sure on paper Spain will be favourites, but don't rule us out just yet."

Murray's ongoing hip and back problems have got many in tennis planning for when the British number one finally retires, but Cameron thinks Kyle Edmund's history-making run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open last month proves the future of British tennis is healthy.

"There's a lot of players just below myself - Liam Broady, Alex Ward and Lloyd Glasspool are all great players and I think they're going to have great futures."

"It's good to see someone so young like Kyle doing so well, I think we are all going to take confidence from each other. I think British tennis is in good hands right now."

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