Willis' dream Wimbledon run gives Oakley confidence
Angmering-on-Sea Lawn Tennis Club talent Keelan Oakley is hoping to draw inspiration from friend Marcus Willis' dream Wimbledon run.
Willis, who is ranked 772 in the world, came through the pre-qualifying and qualifying rounds at SW19 before winning his first-round match against Ricardas Berakis.
His reward was a date with seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer on Centre Court. He lost that one in straight sets but his story will give all British tennis talent some hope.
Oakley, 24, who lives in Bognor, has a good relationship with Willis after meeting him on the tour a few years ago.
Since the pair met, Angmering member Oakley and Willis have been in regular contact, with the latter seeing his recent Wimbledon run as remarkable.
Oakley said: “Marcus is a really talented player and a very nice guy.
“We message each other regularly and always try to stay in touch.
“What he has managed to do these past couple of weeks is remarkable and something which gives everyone on the tour hope.
“He’s worked really hard over the past couple of years, which seems to be paying off now.”
Depsite being in Sharm El Sheikh competing in a Futures event, Oakley did manage to see Willis’ opening two sets against Federer and said: “It just goes to show you Roger’s class as he just dismantled Marcus really.
“What a moment that would have been for Marcus, though, and I was so pleased to see him play in the Wimbledon main draw.”
Looking back at Willis’ run, the Angmering tennis ace sees it as something to draw inspiration from in his own game going forward.
Just a day earlier, Oakley ranked 1053 in the world , saw off Italian fourth seed Francesco Vilardo to book a last-16 spot in the Egypt F13 Futures competition.
Scoring that success that has given Oakley some hope for belief he can compete with higher-ranked players.
He said: “I think Marcus’ run will give myself and so many other players around the world some hope.
“It just goes to show that anything is possible, if you are willing to work and put your mind to something.
“Here in Egypt I managed to beat a fourth seeded player to open up my draw in this event.
“Playing here in Sharm is a long way from Wimbledon but it’s building blocks for me.”
With several Futures events cut from the calendar in Britain, Oakley is into his first week of four in Egypt, while he then moves onto Turkey for another competition.
Having seen several events cut in the UK, Angmering member Oakley believes some players have decided to stop competiting on the tour.
He said: “It’s tough trying to generate funding on the tour.
“I’ve been playing some French League matches to help me for costs on my trip to Egypt then Turkey but many others players have decided to stop playing on the tour.”
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