Shropshire Star

Aces on rival sides of the West Midllands derby net

With both teams initially looking to escape the Championship and now battling it out in the Premier League, Wolves against Aston Villa has become a fairly lively fixture in recent years.

Henry Searle and Max Kilman (Photo: Wolves)

After many years spent apart, a keen sense of local rivalry has returned and intensified, and that’s also the case for two recent British tennis heroes, who find themselves on opposite sides of the net when it comes to looking ahead to Sunday’s massive showdown.

In the gold and black corner, we have 17-year-old Wolves fan Henry Searle, who made his own history this summer by becoming the first British winner of the Boys Singles title at Wimbledon since Stanley Matthews, son of the legendary footballer with the same name, back in 1962. After his spectacular success he was welcomed to Wolves’ Compton training ground to meet the squad.

And, speaking up for the claret and blue? Dan Evans. Evans, now 33, hails from Hall Green, and the keen Villa fan with a career-high singles world ranking of 21 recently enjoyed one of his finest hours with a fantastic performance at the forefront of Great Britain’s qualification for the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga in November.

Dan Evans celebrates beating Arthur Fils

Searle was there with the team gaining experience and showing support at the recent qualification group stages held in Manchester which also featured Andy Murray and Jack Draper. He hit with Evans on a couple of occasions in between matches. Making a racket across the Midlands!

Both have been on their travels at tournaments this week, Evans in China and Searle in Egypt, but keeping in touch with the build-up to the big one!

Paul Berry caught up with both aces ahead of this weekend’s big game. First set, Searle to serve. Play!

Q: Thanks for chatting to us gentlemen. First of all, if we look back to your support of Wolves and Villa. Can you remember how it started and the first game you went to?

HS: My first memories of going to Wolves games were during the season in League One (in 2013/14). It turned into a really good season but obviously it wasn’t where we wanted to be to start with.

DE: Villa’s my team and my first memory of a game is playing against Wimbledon, I think around one Christmas time. I went with my Dad and it was (Savo) Milosevic and (Dwight) Yorke up front and we won 5-0 that day.

Q: Did either of you play much football growing up? Was there ever any chance of trying to turn pro at football instead of tennis?

Henry Searle and the Wolves squad (Photo: Wolves)

HS: I played football up until I was about 10 or 11. I actually played for Wolves Academy funnily enough! I was a left winger. But then I decided to choose tennis as it was going better for me at the time.