Press Reports

Extract from the Evening News, Friday, August 31, 2001

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Richard served well by strong family values

TOP TEAM: Parents Paul and Liz Bloomfield are right at Richard's side as he prepares to build on his national under-18 singles and doubles titles and step up to world senior level.

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Family Affair
Photos: SONYA BROWN

In a sport that leaves the individual exposed and challenged on court, Richard Bloomfield has the solid support of a team behind him -

The youngest son of a long-standing Norfolk farming family has been driven on to become the country's top junior player by the total backing of his parents and two sisters. "When you stop and think what he has done it takes your breath away," said proud mum Liz.

This week the newly-crowned national under18 singles and doubles champion might have lined up for his final Grand Slam boys' singles event at Flushing Meadows, New York.

Instead he returned with his trophies to unwind at the family home at Alpington.

The twin triumph at Nottingham has convinced parents Paul and Liz that the pinnacle of their son's junior career is just the start of his adventure in tennis.
" In this last week I have seen him in a different light," Mrs Bloomfield said of Richard's growth in stature, reputation and confidence. "I was nervous and I've never been nervous watching him before but it was nice to see him do it." Dad Paul, who stayed behind to run the family market garden business on finals day last Friday, said: "I think he was just enjoying himself and if you don't enjoy it you won't do well."

Richard first picked up a racket to play short tennis at his primary school and followed older sisters Claire and Alison to Hobart High School, Loddon, where all three showed ability at tennis and basketball. A court at the home of family friends nearby, looking out over acres of farmland, was the next nursery to nurture the young Bloomfield's talent.Mum explained: "We've never pushed him into tennis, we've just supported him in what he has wanted to do. He quietly gets on with it and knows exactly what he wants to do.
" Dad admitted: "I don't know where the tennis talent comes from."

The Bloomfields have farmed at Alpington for 150 years and Richard's uncles have been a mainstay of the Anglian Combination football club at neighbouring village Yelverton.

Just like British number one Tim Henman - a useful goalkeeper - Richard has played some football and a bit of golf to let off steam.

Mrs Bloomfield recalled: "I think it was in the second game he played for his primary school team they asked him to be captain."

There is a theory that Norfolk youngsters can be too reserved to succeed on the competitive sporting stage. However, Mrs Bloomfield - who returned to work to help finance her son's ambitions - can testify after years of driving Richard to train and play that it demands extra motivation to emerge from the county's relative isolation."It takes a long time to get to places from Norfolk but there has not been a time when he ever said he would give it up.

"With a family trademark of few words well chosen, dad Paul assured: "He knows where he is going." 

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Where now for Norfolk's new ace?

Tough talk to take on the world

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Richard Bloomfield Autumn 2001

PLANS: Richard Bloomfield


SPECIAL FEATURE by GRAHAM DUNBAR

THE future for new national junior tennis champion Richard Bloomfield starts next week.......Then, he and his mentor Ron Allan will sit down with Lawn Tennis Association men's training director Jeremy Bates to map out the Alpington 18year-old's career plan for the next year and beyond.

Key decisions to be made are where Bloomfield will be based, who will coach him, how much LTA funding will be offered and at which tournaments he will play.

The outcome will influence Bloomfield's health and peace of mind as he seeks to make the massive leap from the junior circuit to a full-time, global, dog-eat-dog scrap for senior ranking points.

" My future now is to play more senior events, Satellites, Futures and then Challengers," said the undaunted former Hobart High School pupil, already ranked number 1097 in the world.

To put his prospects into perspective. the first rung of the profesional circuit for British players is the domestic Girobank Tour. Bloomfield already has two of those titles to his name, at Cambridge last year - the first qualifier to win ' such an event - and Ilkley.

Fellow Norfolk pros James Auckland and Barry Fulcher, both now 21, have had the often thankless job of trekking around tournaments in west Africa and India where stifling heat and stomach upsets go with the territory.

"We need Richard to be putting on weight, but there you lose it instead," explained Allan, who was head of maths at Hobart when he first taught his protege.

Bloomfield said: "We are discussing Britain and Europe as I've got to pick the right tournaments to do well at and get a lot of rest. That will be the main thing."

He has timed his run well to take in Futures events at Glasgow, Sunderland and Leeds in the coming weeks after England duty at the four nations championship in Scotland. The senior nationals loom at Bolton in late-October.

Yet having shot up to stand at 6ft-plus, Bloomfield's wiry frame needs carefully tending to build the strength and stamina required on tour.

It is for that reason that the Norfolk end of negotiations with Bates will push for him to return to Bath and the LTA regional centre of excellence attached to the university and its high quality facilities.

There is no guarantee that their wish will be granted.

The new champion revealed: "Everyone at Bath seemed to support me instead of putting me down all the time and that helped me as a person. "Some people like being criticised. I don't".

"I had a good relationship with everyone there - SimonJones, Pete Russell and Darcy Cumming - and for some reason they moved me back to Cambridge."

That switch came in May just as Bloomfield unleashed his summer run of form on opponents. Possibly venting some of his frustration with the LTA establishment.

He has trained in the LTA Rover development squad system and believes it does not fully meet his needs. " I saw a lot of Barry over the summer and had a good talk with him," Bloomfield said of his county team-mate who has not always had the best deal from the LTA.

What is guaranteed is Allan's belief in the teenager's game, which is inspired by giant Australian Patrick Rafter.The twice US Open champion and twice Wimbledon finalist stands out as a big man with finesse to his all-court game in an era of blistering serve-and baseline play typified by 19 year-old American sensation Andy Roddick.

As Bloomfield's body fills out, Allan is wary of being distracted by short-term rankings targets. "I hope the LTA recognises that we are not talking about a young man who has to be a success by next week or next year. If you put too much mental and physical pressure on to achieve a different goal then you stop learning." He will set an aim of a top 100 place within three years which would put his protégé on pace with the development of Tim Henman - the British junior champion in 1992 who was a Wimbledon quarter-finalist four years later. Meeting that goal could even be enough to put Bloomfield into a Davis Cup squad alongside Henman who would by then be only 30.

Allan promised: "I am convinced the breakthrough will be dramatic."

Potential sponsors for Richard Bloomfield can contact Ron Allan on 07798-783864.


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