the club manager julen lopetegui he sent a video of support to the 17-year-old ahead of the final and the club later tweeted his congratulations ‘from the whole pack’.
And it turns out that the club played a role in its history from the moment a boy crazy about football and wolves picked up a racket.
“It started with one of our coaches, Amber Fellows, who is here now doing tennis,” Marc Hughes, who has watched Searle play since he was two and a half years old, told Mail Sport, speaking from the Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis and Squash Club. that he drives.
‘She recognized Henry’s talent. He was very coordinated but he wasn’t sure if he was going to do soccer or tennis. Amber, apart from being a very good tennis player and coach, was also the captain of the Wolves women’s team. So she said let’s do half the soccer session and half the tennis session!
‘That was a pivotal moment in Henry’s development. With the passage of time he decided that he would like to play tennis more than football and he began his career in the club.
“What you saw in the final was the culmination of all the things that the coaches and the people here have instilled in our youngsters: work hard for every point, don’t give up.”
Searle’s is not one of those stories of a boy trained from birth by tennis-mad parents and sent to travel the world sponsored by the family coffers.
His mother, Emma, is a social worker, the family had little tennis experience and they are not particularly well off: the club has covered its subscription fees for several years, as has its policy with promising youngsters. Her family moved house to be closer to the club. They have “had to sacrifice a lot,” says Hughes.
At the age of 12, Searle moved to the Côte d’Azur alone to live and train at the prestigious academy of Patrick Mouratoglou, the former coach of Serena Williams. But she was disappointed. “He wasn’t as good as he was supposed to be,” Hughes said. ‘Henry didn’t have the same manager throughout his journey, a lot of attention was focused on some of the other players and not him. And he was a long way from home.
Searle returned to Wolverhampton after nine months. He now coaches at Loughborough National Academy, and the LTA deserves a good deal of the credit for developing him, but most of all it’s a triumph for the local tennis club.
The passion for his sport, his club and his city rings through Hughes’ voice as he says: ‘This is Henry’s second home. The club here values its youth players and I am afraid that is not the case in all clubs.
We are very proud of the diversity in the club. Wolverhampton is a tough city at the moment, not a lot of new business coming in, so as a non-profit club it’s really important to us that everyone plays and enjoys their time together.
‘Henry has been a great role model for the youth team. A local boy, a local boy, people think of him a lot here.
That was stridently evident on Sunday when a group of Wolverhampton club members led Searle to victory in straight sets from the No. 1 Court stands wearing ‘Henry’s Barmy Army’ jerseys.
And back at the club, the bar was packed. “We had 80 or 90 people watching,” Hughes said. “Ten years ago we did something similar for the final and there were more people here on Sunday than were here to see Andy Murray win Wimbledon.
A lot of people shrink when there’s pressure, Henry just grows. Anytime there was pressure, he delivered. That’s who he is.
“We have a lot to thank his family for because they are the ones who have shaped that side of his development. A great young man. We are all immensely proud of him.
Searle now has some big decisions. He is taking A Levels in history and psychology at Loughborough and isn’t sure whether to turn professional now or complete his studies.
Whenever he decides to take the plunge, former British number one and Davis Cup captain John Lloyd is confident he can make a splash.
Lloyd, who commented on Searle’s quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals for the BBC, told Mail Sport: “I’ve been more impressed with each game. When you look at the juniors making the transition, you see a lot of things. The attitude is huge and, From what I’ve heard, he’s highly motivated.
‘So you look at the guns and his serve is a big shot. That will cause trouble for anyone and it will become stronger once it develops. He also hit some phenomenal drop shots at big points, a bit like Carlos Alcaraz did in the men’s final.
“But the most impressive thing is how he handled the big points. Serving for yesterday’s match, she’s serving for a Wimbledon title, the crowd is going wild, she made it look easy in the biggest game of her life.
‘Unless there are injuries, I can categorically say that he will make it to the professional tour. The numbers there? If he continues his development, I think he will be in the top 50 without a doubt.
One danger, as always, is rising expectations and the very British tendency to promote our young athletes.
‘He can handle it,’ Lloyd said. ‘I don’t think he’s the type of person to turn his head. He knows that this is just the beginning of the journey.