Paul Jubb is the latest up-and-coming talent on the British tennis scene, but ‘Jubby’ has followed a different path altogether from many of his peers, writes Jack Lacey-Hatton at The Queen's Club.
The talented 22-year-old - who is on the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme, the highest level of support for players aged 16-24 - has had a long and winding route to a second Wimbledon appearance this summer.
From a Hull council estate to the All England Club, via combining university with tennis in South Carolina, Jubb’s journey has also included personal tragedy.
He was brought up by his grandmother, Valerie, from the age of four. His father, Shaun, who was a serving soldier, died when he was an infant and his mother, Jacinta, died when he was just eight years old.
Amid this tragic backdrop, Jubb first picked up a racquet the age of five but even at such an early stage in life his natural talent was evident.
“In my first year of primary school, I started playing in an after-school tennis club,” said Jubb, speaking at the 2022 cinch Championships at Queen’s Club.
“The coach who ran the sessions saw something in me and I was allowed to play the local club and I just progressed from there really.
“When I was young, I just played purely because I enjoyed it. I never thought about getting to the level I’m at now back then.
“It was for fun until I was 15. That was when I made that conscious decision of wanting to ‘go for it’ and go as far as I can.”
By this point, Jubb was coached at the LTA-accredited Nuffield Health Tennis Academy on the banks of the Humber, only a 25-minute drive from where he grew up.
A junior national championship followed before he was offered a scholarship by the University of South Carolina. Since then, he has won the 2019 NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championship and played in a main draw of a Grand Slam.
Now he could be potentially the next big thing in British tennis.
Having come from a tough background, Judd is pleased to prove that tennis is for everyone, and that the sport’s elitist image is outdated.
“The game is now spreading to different communities in this country,” he said. “We are maybe losing the typical stereotype of who played tennis in the past.
“And it is just good more people are getting involved.
“Hopefully one day a lot of kids from a similar background can look to me as that inspiration and take things from what I do.
“I want to be in that position one day.”
Jubb isn’t the only youngster to have pushed up the rankings this year, with Jack Draper and Ryan Peniston also establishing themselves.
But the Hull youngster feels that has fostered a team spirit amongst the group.
“This is a good time in British tennis,” said Jubb. “I think the group who we have coming through are a great bunch.
“We’re close. We’re always messaging to try and push each other on.
“Everyone has that hunger for to succeed and not only for themselves but everyone else. It is an individual sport but we’re training with each other and want to make each other better.
“I think the culture and environment we have is really good at the moment.”
So, could he follow fellow Brit Draper and be the next to break into the ATP Tour top 100?
“To be ranked in the top 100,” he added. “That would be the dream I’ve always had.
“When I made the conscious decision of feeling like I could make it in tennis – top 100 was always the long-term goal even though it felt so far away then.
“It is still the dream, but I also think I can go higher than top 100 and push on. But that will be the goal for now.”
Jubb is one a new crop of talented young British players who will be heading to Wimbledon this year after his wildcard was confirmed earlier this week.
“This is always a great time of year,” he added. “Things feel a little less chaotic than when you are on the road week-after-week.
“Playing in front of home crowds always gives us a great feeling as well. I think it is everyone’s favourite time of the year and we all want to do well.
“I have no points to defend from last year, but I think that can allow me to enjoy it as well.
“It would be a good confidence boost that I can perform well on all services if I have a good season on grass.”
For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website.