Paul Jubb will leave Wimbledon fully believing he belongs at the top level.
The 19-year-old was given a wild card after becoming the first British player to win the prestigious American college title and then impressing throughout the grass-court warm-up events.
But his Portuguese opponent Joao Sousa, ranked 69, is a very solid and experienced professional and he ultimately had too much for Jubb, winning 6-0 6-3 6-7 (8) 6-1.
Jubb’s story has garnered plenty of attention, the boy raised by his grandmother on a Hull council estate after losing both his parents tragically young making his way to the grandest stage in tennis.
“I think the few weeks before this, as well as this, gave me a lot of confidence going forward,” he said.
“I definitely feel like I belong at this level, definitely can win at this level. Now it’s just obviously tough to jump from one level to the other straightaway. It’s not going to happen straightaway.
“I think just the more I play at this level, the more I’ll be able to manage the matches. Once you give these guys an inch, it’s not easy to get back in. There’s very little margin. There’s some positives to take from this match, for sure. I’ve just got to learn, that’s the most important thing, get better.”
Jubb was watched by a number of family members, including his grandmother Val, although several of them had to leave before the end to travel back to Yorkshire.
“I was just more happy for them, getting to watch me play at Wimbledon,” said Jubb. “It’s just a really nice thing. They’ve all told me how proud they are and things like that.”
Initially it appeared the occasion and the opponent would be far too much of a challenge, with Sousa breezing through the first set.
But Jubb, ranked 431, relaxed into the match as it went on and it became a much more even contest. He stayed with Sousa until the eighth game of the second set, and twice led by a break in the third.
The teenager, who has modelled his game on Novak Djokovic, impressed with his competitive desire and his athleticism, coming out on top of a number of long rallies, but he struggled to impose himself with his serve.
He pushed Sousa all the way to a third-set tie-break, and produced some of his best tennis, saving two match points before taking his second opportunity, roaring along with the crowd packed around tiny Court 17.
But the effort of winning the set seemed to take its toll and Jubb was immediately broken at the start of the fourth set, with Sousa going on to wrap up victory after two hours and 16 minutes.
Jubb was disappointed with his own performance, saying: “(It was) definitely far from the level that I wanted to put out there. I’d have liked to trouble him a bit more.”
The teenager will take a couple of weeks off after playing doubles with Jack Draper at the All England Club before planning a professional schedule until January, when he is due to return to the University of South Carolina to finish his studies.
Because he is an amateur, Jubb is unable to collect the £45,000 in prize money for first-round losers.
He will re-evaluate at the end of the year but expects to return to college, saying: “If I’m doing really well, maybe there’s a possibility (I’ll turn professional). But I’m certainly not feeling like I’m in a rush to go into the pro tour yet.”