It’s fair to say that the stars of the show at Wimbledon, as far as British interest is concerned, have been the doubles players (well, after Jack Draper, of course). Joe Salisbury, Dom Inglot, Jamie Murray, Heather Watson, Harriet Dart and Jay Clarke all reached at least the quarter-final stage across all of the doubles events, showing that Britain looks set to continue producing its wealth of doubles talent.
One pairing that have gone under the radar, Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara, are set to take a step up from their usual ATP Challenger surroundings as they enter the main draw of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, USA.
Bambridge and O’Mara are looking to conclude an excellent grass season, which has seen them win their first ATP doubles title at the Eastbourne International, in the ATP 250 event. The title in Eastbourne, as well as being crowned champions at the Surbiton Trophy Challenger event, means the British pair have broken well inside the world’s top 100 and will help them become more regular on the ATP circuit.
Before their title in Eastbourne, neither Bambridge nor O’Mara had stepped on court at an ATP event this year. Usually finding themselves in the Challenger events, O’Mara and Bambridge have made excellent progress in 2018, reaching finals in Loughborough and Mexico City (as a pair), Saint-Brieuc and Savannah (Bambridge), and Glasgow (O’Mara).
Now, it’s time for them to establish themselves on the ATP tour and become a force to be reckoned with.
High hopes after grass success
Bambridge and O’Mara’s title at the Eastbourne International showed just how excited British fans should be. They defeated established pairings, including Dom Inglot/Franko Skugor and Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah in third set deciders, before toppling Ken and Neal Skupski in the final, as they truly made the most out of their wild card opportunity.
Going into the Wimbledon main draw, hopes for success were elevated following this maiden title. However, a cruel draw, pitching them against second seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, meant it was a first round exit for the pair.
This early defeat, coupled with an opening round mixed doubles loss for Luke and Katie Boulter, meant that Bambridge and O’Mara have been able travel to USA and enter the Hall of Fame Open without needing to rush. They face the unseeded pair Leander Paes and James Cerretani as they look to become the second Brits to win the title, after Jonathan Marray in 2015.
It shouldn’t be underestimated just how important the grass season is for establishing British players on the tour. With home tournaments, and therefore wild cards, congested in the middle months, it’s easy for players to become stuck in a rankings limbo during the rest of the year.
So when British players are given the opportunities presented to them, it’s fantastic to see them grasp it. Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara have certainly done this, with two titles and finally breaking into the world’s top 100. How they use this stepping stone to continue to grow is down to them, but they are making the right move by entering main draws of ATP tournaments. Success here should see them earn direct entrance into future ATP-level events, as well as the Grand Slams, meaning greater career earnings and exposure to fans.
Whether as a pair or with different partners, let’s hope that this continues and that the names Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara become regulars on the ATP doubles scene.