CAMERON NORRIE is preparing for the biggest tennis match of his life – but actually learnt his trade with his mum’s old sawn-off SQUASH racket.
The British No1, 26, has reached his first-ever Grand Slam semi-final, where he will face Novak Djokovic on Centre Court.
But Norrie’s route to superstardom is far from the norm.
Born to a Scottish dad and Welsh mum, the South African-born leftie moved to New Zealand at the age of four – and quickly tried his hand at every sport imaginable.
His parents were squash nuts, with dad David the top-ranked Scotland Universities player at one stage.
And Norrie – seeded No9 for this summer’s Wimbledon – has admitted he only first started playing tennis after mum Helen chopped off the handle of her squash racket and played with him on the driveway.
Speaking of his early years, Norrie said: “When I was three or four I moved to New Zealand and went to school there.
“I played all sports in New Zealand. Cricket, rugby, tennis as well as cross country for the school.
“I was playing pretty much every sport until 14 or 15 which was when I honed in on tennis.
“Both my parents were very good squash players…
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“My dad was No1 in Scotland for the Universities and my mum was a great player too so they had squash rackets all throughout the house and the garage.
“Do you remember the old squash rackets? They were really long and thin with a tiny head… really old school.
“I remember my mum sawed off the handle of her racket and we played with sawn off squash rackets in the driveway.
“That was how I started playing tennis and first hitting the ball.”
Norrie would move back to the UK aged 16, citing a lack of competition in New Zealand before heading to the USA to play at university.
Very quietly, the understated star has been working his way up the rankings and is now the world No12.
Despite a packed field including legends Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – as well as new stars like Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev – Norrie is confident he can break through to win a Grand Slam.
I would love to play a Wimbledon final but my main goal is to keep striving for that world No1 spot… that’s my biggest ambition.
Even last year, Norrie confessed: “It’s so tough to win a Grand Slam, but if my name is in the draw I’m always going to have a chance.
“I am going to keep pushing and learning. I know there are a lot of steps.
“There are so many amazing players like Zverev who haven’t won a Major yet.
“I would like to think I can win one. I think my best chance would be at the French Open or US Open.
“Of course I would love to play a Wimbledon final but my main goal is to keep striving for that world No1 spot… that’s my biggest ambition.”
Norrie is now just one match away from the SW19 showpiece, with opponent Djokovic going for a fourth straight title at the All England club – and seventh overall.
Should the Brit win, he’ll face one of Rafael Nadal or Nick Kyrgios in the final.
Let’s just hope Djokovic doesn’t squash his dreams…