Yorkshire’s young hopeful Clay Crawford has won the AEGON British Tour Bonus Pool for 2015, the latest step on his journey as he attempts to follow in the footsteps of Andy Murray.
The Leeds competitor has won four tournaments over the last 12 months, including consecutive wins in Newcastle, Bolton and Graves, the latter Sheffield’s premier tennis venue.
Throughout the season, he has amassed 23,120 points.
Despite losing in the quarter-finals of a tournament in Nottingham to the Isle of Man’s Billy Harris this month – a masters event which saw the top 30 ranked players in the country competing – Crawford had already done enough to scoop the annual £500 prize for topping the table, finishing more than 2,000 points clear of his nearest rival.
A shining light on what is sadly a diminishing British Tour, many of his peers have been forced to turn their attention to coaching abroad rather than competing domestically.
The prize money for this year’s tournaments stood at just £1,000 for a premier tier win, and only £200 per tournament triumph for the likes of Crawford.
The recent success of the 20-year-old serves as a reminder to the Lawn Tennis Association that the recent cutting of prize money at lower levels could lead to success further down the line being stifled, an argument recently voiced by world No 2 Murray following Great Britain’s Davis Cup win.
Crawford was funded to play ITF tournaments abroad as a junior.
However, since turning 18, the cost of travelling abroad has limited him to UK tournaments, leading to the Briton losing his world ranking. Now 20, he has earned $1,920 in his entire career. The recent closure of the £40m National Training Centre in Roehampton, south-west London, has cast a shadow over future development of young tennis players in this country.
But with Yorkshire boasting the likes of Crawford on the British Tour – and Beverley’s Kyle Edmund who has now breached the top 100 – there appears to be life left in British and Yorkshire tennis.