Wimbledon 2019: Evan Hoyt learning to 'belong' with mixed doubles run
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|Venue: All England Club Dates: 1-14 July|
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Evan Hoyt says he feels like he now "belongs" at Wimbledon after reaching the quarter-finals with mixed doubles partner Eden Silva.
The unseeded British pair beat Belgian Joran Vliegen and Saisai Zheng of China 5-7 7-6 6-4 on Court Two on Tuesday.
Hoyt and Silva have already accounted for 16th seeds Divij Sharan and Yingying Duan, plus Leander Paes and Sam Stosur in the first round.
"It's amazing, it is still sinking in," said 24-year-old Welshman Hoyt.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed an amazing first experience of senior Wimbledon.
"If somebody had told me it would be in the quarter-finals of mixed doubles I would have jumped at the opportunity, so it is still sinking in, but I am enjoying the process."
Hoyt and Silva will play eighth seeds Ivan Dodig and Latisha Chan on Thursday for a place in the semi-finals.
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Hoyt lost his first-round men's doubles match with partner Luke Johnson against Nicholas Monroe and Mischa Zverev, but since then his partnership with 23-year-old Silva has clicked impressively.
"We have tried in each match to have fun out there and I have reminded Eden every match to just enjoy it and not have any expectations because it is our first Wimbledon here," Hoyt said.
"At times if you do get too serious you lose that energy and buzz and the bond you have out on the court. So we have tried to have that bit of fun."
Hoyt has won matches at Junior Wimbledon but before this year had never won at senior level at SW19.
"As a junior I got this opportunity to play three in a row and that was amazing but it is definitely different as a senior," he said.
"To be in and among all the top players is a completely different feeling. I have been talking to John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl.
"Winning matches at this level, you feel like you belong a little bit more.
"I am growing in confidence and we are feeling more comfortable on court. Today was a big court to play on and we both took it in our stride and played some great tennis especially in the big moments."
Injury-free after 'tough times'
Hoyt is the first Welsh player to win a senior match at Wimbledon since Sarah Loosemore in 1990 and the first to reach the quarters since Gerald Battrick in the men's doubles in 1975.
"Since I have come out of the juniors I have had a few injuries which have kept me out of the game," he added.
"First I had a stress fracture of my back which was almost a year out of the game.
"Then I came back and got up to 500 in the world and was doing quite well, but ended up having to have shoulder surgery in 2016 and I was out for a year and a half then.
"I am fit and healthy at the moment and have been for almost two years and know I am heading in the right direction, and a great team of people around me and a great family that have supported me through those tough times.
"I am enjoying this week because it is definitely one of the highs and all the tough times makes this more enjoyable.
"At times I doubted whether I wanted to come back because I was out not doing much. I tried to keep myself as active as possible. I did a university degree and coaching to earn a bit of money but otherwise I was not doing a whole load.
"At times I did doubt it but I have always dreamt of playing Wimbledon and getting back and I believed.
"I have had a great year in singles and doubles so I am heading in the right direction."
Elsewhere in the Championship, 18-year-old James Story from Cardiff lost in the Boys' singles 4-6 7-5 4-6 to Ukraine's Illya Beloborodko, while North Wales' Morgan Cross lost in the Girls' doubles first round.