RYAN Peniston will be looking to spring another surprise at Queen’s this afternoon – but his rise to the top of tennis has not come as a surprise to anyone at Southend Lawn.

The Great Wakering based Peniston, who beat number one seed Casper Ruud on Tuesday, started playing at Southend Lawn from a very young age.

And he immediately stood out, according to club captain Graham Taylor.

Echo: Looking back - Southend Lawn club captain Graham TaylorLooking back - Southend Lawn club captain Graham Taylor

“Ryan must have first come down when he was about five,” recalled Taylor.

“He would be here for Saturday morning coaching with all of the other juniors but if I’m being honest he started to improve far quicker than we could cope with.

“He started individual lessons and the biggest thing for him, I would say, is that his dad was a really good player.

“He started to coach him and really took him forward.”

Echo: Back - Ryan Peniston training at Southend LawnBack - Ryan Peniston training at Southend Lawn

Working alongside his father Paul, Peniston continued to impress but not just because of his ability.

“Ryan really stood out because he always had that determination,” said Taylor.

“He was going to hit it harder and deeper than anyone else, he was going to hit the cones set as targets and just always wanted to do well.

“His dad must have done a lot of research too because I remember him tying a rope up across the net.

“It was about six inches above the net and he was getting Ryan to hit balls through that gap.

“His dad would tell him he had to get a certain number and Ryan had the determination to do it.

“They’re a great family and Ryan has worked so hard.

“He was pretty much always here, it was like Ryan Lawn Tennis Club!”

Echo: Proud - Ryan with his father Paul and mother PennyProud - Ryan with his father Paul and mother Penny

That training programme and Peniston’s subsequent improvement led to him being selected in the men’s squads at the age of 13.

And Taylor can still recall seeing Peniston’s excellence close up.

“He played with his dad in the doubles and I played a match or two with him as well,” said Taylor.

“It started off with me saying be careful, these are difficult opponents and then ended up with me playing standard tennis and him doing everything else.

“I just used to stand there and watch, it was lovely!

“I could leave it all to him and if you had Ryan playing for you by the time he was 13 or 14 it was a banker win.”

Echo: Honours board - Ryan Peniston won the club championships back in 2008Honours board - Ryan Peniston won the club championships back in 2008

And it was a similar story in the club championships which Peniston won back in 2008.

“Ryan won that so he’s on the honours board here which is nice,” said Taylor.

“He must have been 12 or 13 when he won it and his dad won it a couple of years before him too.

“His dad beat me in the semis actually and so did Ryan.”

But that was not to be Taylor’s last defeat to Peniston, who takes on world number 46 Francisco Cerundolo today.

“The last time I played him it was a nightmare I want to forget,” laughed Taylor, “He was so good it was ridiculous.

“He was probably about 14 and I must have been about 32.

“I was fit and had strength but he was awesome and the ball just flew past me.

“I tried all sorts of things too.

“He was quite short back then so I thought I could do the odd drop shot and then lob him when he was at the net but he was like a jack in the box.

“The ball kept fizzing past me so I remember that one for all the wrong reasons.”

Echo: Doing well - Ryan Peniston is into the second round of Queen'sDoing well - Ryan Peniston is into the second round of Queen's

With such close connections, Taylor has continued to track Peniston’s progress but he is not the only one to be doing so at Southend Lawn.

“Ryan’s been a big part of this club and everyone talks about him,” said Taylor.

“Even before Tuesday's win, we were incredibly proud of everything he does.

“He’s always played the right way and conducted himself brilliantly.

“If he’s home soon it would be great if he could come down and meet some of our juniors.

“They could try to get some of his shots back and I could try again too!”


> Ryan Peniston's dad Paul proud of son's progress

>How Ryan saw off top seed Casper Ruud