British wild card Jan Choinski paid tribute to the home crowd at Wimbledon after they “carried” him through to a second-round meeting with former doubles partner Hubert Hurkacz.
German-born Choinski, the son of an English ballet dancer, changed allegiances in 2019 and rewarded the faith placed in him at the All England Club with an excellent 5-7 7-6 (4) 6-2 6-2 win over world number 56 Dusan Lajovic.
During his main draw debut at the Championships, Choinski fought back from a set down on Court 17 to secure the biggest victory of his career and set up a clash with 2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist Hurkacz, who is Polish like his father.
“I feel absolutely amazing and the crowd was electric at my court,” Choinski said.
“Even though it was one of the smaller courts, I felt carried by the crowd, carried by the whole team, the whole LTA support that was there, my mum especially, and my girlfriend.
“So, yeah, just an amazing day. I’m happy that I could produce some good tennis.”
On the prospect of facing Hurkacz next, Choinski revealed: “We had great contact as juniors.
“We played many doubles tournaments together. As a matter of fact, we won Roehampton, a junior grade one tournament, leading up to Wimbledon in 2014. Then we also played Wimbledon doubles together.
“I’m always great friends with the Polish squad. We practised together a lot. Yeah, he’s done very good for himself. I’m happy to see him where he is right now. I’m thankful for the challenge and thankful to be able to play him in the second round.”
Choinski and world number 18 Hurkacz last partnered up in 2016 and the past seven years have brought a number of challenges for the six-foot-five right-hander.
After he started out playing for Germany, a conversation with Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith at the IMG academy in 2018 set the wheels in motion for a nationality switch.
Being a British citizen, due to his mother being born in Southampton, Choinski was able to smoothly link up with the LTA.
But surgeries on his hip and shoulder followed, sandwiched by the coronavirus pandemic, and he was ruled out of Wimbledon last year with Covid-19.
His spell on the sidelines saw Choinski drop to 692 in the ATP rankings in August but he never once contemplated walking away from the sport and after impressing at several ITF and Challenger Tour events, he was delighted to justify his place in SW19 with a fine win.
World number 167 Choinski said: “This time last year? I was struggling with mononucleosis and Covid on top of that.
“I was 26 at that time, had almost dropped all my ranking points and came back from two years of being out, two years of being injured, two surgeries.
“But I just never wanted to leave tennis, put tennis by the side. I just thought I’ve got more in myself and I want to show it.
“My attitude is never to really think that’s it. I never doubted it for one second. Never said for one second that I want to stop.
“My love and the passion for the sport is just so big. Also my love for practising, working on myself, getting better, seeing progress day by day.
“After my second surgery, I basically locked myself into National Tennis Centre at the LTA. I got the best support I could have, but we were working so hard.
“We were working six days a week from nine in the morning till six at night. Sometimes I was sleeping there.
“I’d go into the gym or something by myself at eight in the evening and still do another rehab session to try and speed up the whole process of rehab.
“Then we got to a point where I finally was able to compete again after six months or something.
“Yeah, it’s great being here representing Great Britain and being able to produce some good tennis in the first round.”