Titan’s Herbie Morris – National U10 Champion
There is a tendency in this country to get overly carried away when a youngster shows even a glimmer of having what it takes to make the big time.
All too often that potential remains just that – potential – and the hype, for a variety of reasons, is misplaced.
However, while there are still a whole host of obstacles to overcome along the way, 10-year-old Herbie Morris is currently doing everything in his power to make the grade in the world of tennis.
Recently crowned national under-10 champion, the Newmarket youngster has won an impressive 11 out of 14 Grade 3 events across the country in 2018 – he finished third in the other three.
The most recent of those victories came on the weekend of December 15, doing so without dropping a set, before going on to win a 12 Counties event 24 hours later for good measure.
And if that was not enough, Morris recently helped Great Britain Under-11s get the better of their French counterparts, during which the St Louis Catholic Academy pupil beat an opponent who had previously represented his country at under-14 level on three occasions.
So, just how good can he become? Does the country have another Andy Murray on their hands?
As far as Paul Hope – Morris’ coach at the Titan Tennis Academy in Exning who spotted his talent aged six – is concerned, the sky really is the limit.
“Herbie wants to be a professional and right now the stars are aligned for him. They key is he has got to continue loving it. He trains most days at 7am, and he has to keep on embracing that,” he said.
“He has this confidence in his movement and a balance that sets him apart. It comes from the gymnastics he did between the ages of four and seven.
“When I first saw Herbie hitting a ball I said at the time I thought he was going to be special, and I have never said that since because at such a young age you cannot normally tell.
“But I really meant it with him. He has got that bit of magic and can go as far as he wants to go.”
After such a successful 2018, the challenge now is to continue on the upward trajectory.
Hope is planning to test Morris on a whole new level next year, with defeats set to be a key part of the process.
“I need him to battle and in a strange way I need him to lose. He has to deal with learning how to lose because it is a big part of making it to the top,” added Hope.
“Next year he can play against players in older age groups and that will provide different challenges. We have not just stayed in East Anglia this year, we have gone around the country to test him and it will be the same again.
“He knows it is not going to be easy – nothing is going to be handed on a plate – but he is up for the challenge.
“He has a great family as well who support him a lot and that is another key thing. We are trying to build a real champion, that is his dream and hopefully he can realise it.
Article in the Newmarket Journal and Bury Free Press. Published 28 December. Liam Apicella: https://www.newmarketjournal.co.uk/sport/sky-s-the-limit-for-herbie-9057785/