Thomas Wright (Beckenham) and Harry Simpson (Hull) got Team GB off to a winning start at the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) as the two tennis stars progressed through to the second round of the singles on Monday.
Wright was in dominant form against Romania’s Sorin Iordache as he triumphed 6-1, 6-2 while Simpson was made to work hard before eventually seeing off Polish 9th seed Piotr Matuszewski 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
Wright’s victory has earned the 14-year-old a clash with the Hungarian No.1 seed Mate Valkusz in the round of 32 but the youngster was in confident mood after his comfortable first-round win.
“I was definitely a bit nervous before I went out there," he said.
“That was my first time wearing the Team GB t-shirt and it definitely gave me that extra bit of belief, you know you are not just playing for yourself but also the whole team.
“My next opponent may be the No.1 seed but I don’t think it means that much really, every game is going to be tough out here and we’re all roughly the same ability.
“My opponent has not played a match yet so for me I have to try and keep this flow going and try and take it into the next match.”
Simpson and Wright will also team up for the doubles competition in Utrecht with their first-round clash scheduled for Tuesday.
Unfortunately, both Eden Richardson (Ellesmere Port) and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (Reading) went out in the first round of the girls singles event.
Richardson went out 6-0, 6-1 to Russia’s Daria Kruzhkova while Drakeford-Lewis also lost out to a Russian, Tatiana Nikolaeva, the youngster going down 7-5, 7-5.
But with the two girls also set to team up for the doubles event on Tuesday, all is not lost for them according to Richardson.
“I am still looking forward to the doubles where I will be hoping to turn it round and play better,” she added.
“I try to play as much doubles as I can at tournaments, Sophie and I have played together once or twice.
“I am looking forward to starting again fresh and it should be really good.”
Away from the sporting competition the European Olympic Committee (EOC) also held a special ceremony for outgoing International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge whose initiative created the EYOF 22 years ago.
An athlete representative from each of the 49 National Olympic Committees was chosen to be a part of ceremony, where EOC President Patrick Hickey presented Rogge with a gift from all of the National Olympic Committees of Europe.
Seventeen year-old judoka Peter Miles was selected to represent Team GB at the ceremony, he said: “I was really honoured to be selected by Sarah as the GB athlete for today’s ceremony. Meeting Jacques Rogge was a huge honour especially since it is because of him I am here in Utrecht competing for Team GB.”