Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Mark Gregory
8:09 AM 31st May 2023

British Tennis Watch – Week 21

In this long-running series of articles, we will be reviewing all the action in the world of British tennis, from Grand Slams to Juniors.

We’ll be trying to cover all manner of tennis at various different levels, with a focus on British prospects. For now, though, we will be keeping our focus on Singles action, and putting Doubles to one side except for big events such as the Grand Slams.

The article is split into different levels – these levels are based on the number of points available for the winner of each tournament. For example, a tournament at ‘250 Level’ means there are 250 ranking points available for the winning player.

Please let us know if we miss anyone off by emailing me at

Week 18 – 22–28 May 2023

In this week’s edition:

Total wipeout of British interest in French Open qualifying
Cam Norrie reaches an ATP 250 final in Lyon
George Loffhagen reaches an ITF final out in Turkey

ATP/WTA Main Tour

Grand Slam

The second Grand Slam of the year is almost upon us – the main draw of the French Open, the only Slam on clay courts, kicks off next week, and as such, qualifying took place in earnest this week, giving several Brits a chance to earn their place in the main draw of one of the biggest tournaments of the year.

Unfortunately, none of them were able to get past the second round of qualifying.

There were three British men in action in qualifying – Liam Broady, who was seeded 28th, as well as unseeded players Ryan Peniston and Jan Choinski. All three men won their opening matches to pick up eight ranking points, but all three were defeated in three sets in the second qualifying round: Broady lost to eventual qualifier Emilio Nava of the States 6-4 0-6 6-3, Peniston lost to veteran Moldovan Radu Albot 2-6 6-2 6-4, while Choinski fell to Austrian 14th seed Sebastian Ofner, 3-6 6-4 6-0.

Seven British women braved the clay in France in the hope of reaching the main draw, and, just like in the Men’s draw, three of them made the second qualifying round. Sonay Kartal, Yuriko Miyazaki, Katie Swan, and Heather Watson all lost early, but seeded ladies Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart both won their opening matches, as did Francesca Jones, who beat former world number 9 Coco Vanderweghe in straight sets. However, Jones, who is on a successful comeback from a lengthy injury, was devastated to have to retire after just five games in her second qualifying round match, putting a temporary halt to her excellent recent form. Dart and Boulter both bowed out with defeats in three sets to lower-ranked opposition.

So these results mean there are no British women in the French Open main draw this year, and just three men: Cameron Norrie, Daniel Evans, and Jack Draper.

500 Level

There was a WTA 500 event in Rabat, Morocco this week, with Naiktha Bains entered into qualifying. She won one match before losing to Hungarian Timea Babos.

250 Level

Talking of Norrie and Draper, both men were in action at one of the French Open warm-up events this week – an ATP 250 in Lyon. The results were encouraging for both men, with Draper reaching the quarter-finals unseeded, and Norrie getting to the semis as the second seed. The bane of both men was Argentinian Francisco Cerundolo, who beat Draper first, 4-6 6-4 6-3, before demolishing Norrie 6-3 6-0 in the very next match. We wish both men the best of luck in Paris next week.

ATP Challenger Tour / WTA/ITF Futures Tour

80 Level

With qualifying for the French Open taking up most of the higher-level Brits’ attention, there wasn’t a great deal of British interest elsewhere in the tour, especially at the middle levels from 100 to 50. Emily Appleton, a British 23-year-old who has never been ranked inside the top 400 as yet, was in action in qualifying for the ITF80 event in Italy this week. Appleton, as the second seed in qualifying, received a bye through to the final qualifying round, but was unable to get past that sole hurdle – she lost 6-2 4-6 6-3 to local twelfth seed Martina Caregaro.

70 Level

Eden Silva and Sarah Beth Grey were both beaten by the same opponent at the ITF70 event in Slovenia this week. Grey took on Hungarian Adrienn Nagy in the first round, falling 6-3 6-2, before Silva – who had earned a bye through to the second round thanks to her seeding – lost 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 in a much tighter affair.

50 Level

Four women were involved in the ITF50 event in Monastir, Tunisia this week, with mixed results. Lauryn John-Baptiste just missed out on qualifying for the main draw, but Isabelle Lacy did so successfully, and joined wildcard Alisha Reader and Jasmine Conway in the 32. Unfortunately, it was 'three strikes and out' for the girls, as each of them fell in the first round, although it might be worth noting that John-Baptiste and her French partner won the doubles event.

25 Level

It was a great week for George Loffhagen in Turkey, as he defied his rank to knock out three seeded players en route to a final appearance at the ITF25 in Bodrum. Notably, Loffhagen beat second seed Jules Marie in the second round – the pair have now played four times this year alone, and Loffhagen has won the last two, including a title-winning match at the ITF25 in Nottingham earlier in May. Loffhagen also defeated the fifth and eighth seeds before finally meeting his match against the top seed, Rudolf Molleker of Germany, in the final.

Elsewhere, nothing much to write home about – Stuart Parker won one game as the fifth seed at the ITF25 in Czechia, while in Spain, Freddy Humphries lost his first match in qualifying, and Zach Stephens lost his first match in the main draw as a wildcard.

15 Level

In Mexico, Aidan McHugh was seeded second and made the quarter-finals of the indoor event before succumbing to local sixth seed Aidan Mayo. Neither Max Benaim nor John Horoz Garner were able to come through qualifying.

In Tunisia, Millen Hurrion continued his excellent form, emerging as the sole Brit from the qualifying draw as Patrick Foley, Freddy Blaydes, Sam Bird, and Louis Allen all fell by the wayside. Hurrion continued his form into the main draw and reached the last 16, but was eventually beaten by Frenchmen Adrien Gobat.

Blu Baker reached the quarter-finals of the ITF15 in Huntsville, Alabama before unfortunately withdrawing from the event with a presumed injury. Ben Jones made the main draw but couldn’t win a match, while Ellis Short couldn’t quite get the final win he needed in qualifying.

In Ethiopia, Matthias Southcombe came through qualifying but came up against Zimbabwean veteran Benjamin Lock in the first round and was soundly beaten. Joe Cooper couldn’t get out of qualifying.

10 Level

It was a wild week for Eleanor Baglow out in Serbia. The 21-year-old, who hadn’t won an ITF main draw match all year until this week, managed to come through three rounds of qualifying and then march to the semi-finals of the event in Kursumlijska Banja. She even put up a great fight against the top seed, Zhibek Kulambayeva of Kazakhstan in the semis, a woman ranked almost 800 places ahead of her, before eventually going down 6-1 4-6 6-1. But some brilliant results along the way and five precious ranking points to add to her collection.

Some decent results in Spain, too, this week, especially for Aryana Bartlett, who battled through qualifying at the ITF10 event to join Emma Wilson and Matilda Mutavdzic in the main draw – neither Freya Peet nor Macy Denney-Richards were able to join them. Both Wilson and Bartlett lost in the first round, but Mutavdzic fulfilled her eighth seeding to reach the quarter-finals, where she eventually fell to a Chinese qualifier.

Junior Tennis

J500 Level

There was a high-stakes event in Milan, Italy, this week for five of Britain’s best young prospects. But it was once again Hannah Klugman, 14, who stole the show and showed her elders how to play as she reached the last 16 of the event while all the rest of her compatriots fell at the first hurdle. Hephzibah Oluwadare, Ella McDonald, Henry Searle and Charlie Robertson all lost in the first round. Klugman, meanwhile, beat an Italian wildcard in the first round before earning a somewhat fortuitous win over Polish opposition in the second – Klugman was leading comfortably 6-2 4-1 before her opponent retired, injured. Klugman was eventually stopped by the eventual winner of the competition, Kaitlin Quevedo, a girl three years her elder and ranked fourth in the ITF Junior rankings.

J100 Level

Not a great set of results at this level this week for the Boys or the Girls: in Croatia, Benjamin Gusic Wan was the second seed at the J100, but fell in the third before he ever really got going.

Luke Hooper and Kyle McKay were both seeded at the J100 in Portugal, but after enjoying byes through the first round, they both lost their second-round ties. Kai-Luca Ampaw also couldn’t find a way past his first-round opponent. Athina Schlepphorst did manage to pick up one win in the Girls’ draw before losing in the second round.

J60 Level

Ellie Blackford was the top seed at the J60 event in Latvia this week, and went some way to fulfilling that seeding – she reached the semi-finals before a rather abrupt exit at the hands of Daria Bibanina. Meanwhile, in El Salvador, Max Castle – seeded fourth – did just as well, also reaching the semi-finals before eventually losing to the top seed from the States. Two excellent results there for our budding youngsters.

There was also an event in Spain this week, but with less success – Conor Brady won one match to reach the last 16, while Finn Lester and Annalise Smith lost in the opening round.

J30 Level


Well, isn’t it about time?

There were actually three singles title winners at this level this week – two of them came at the J30 event in Wrexham, where Brits were abundant in the main draw, and one of them came out in Moldova, where avid readers of this series of articles will recognise a familiar face.

To Wrexham, first, and the Boys: there were six Brits taking the eight quarter-final spots, and this led to two all-British semi-finals – so all-in-all, a strong showing from the Boys. The eventual winner was Jay Johnson-Hauldren, the fourth seed, who won the final against Maximillian Carrier. Alfie King and Ilias Worthington were the beaten semi-finalists, while James Ashworth and Brooklyn Bamburac made the quarters.

The Girls matched the Boys every step of the way – there were six Brits in the quarterfinals and two all-British semis, which, naturally, resulted in a British triumph in the final. Fourth seed Brooke Black defeated unseeded Alice Wilson-March to claim the title. Black, 15, will be chuffed with only her second title at this level, while Wilson-March had never even reached an ITF Junior final before. Elizabeth Evans and Mia Wainwright were the beaten semi-finalists, while Tegan Bush and Isabelle Britton made the quarters.

Now, to Moldova, and a title triumph for young Mark Ceban, now 14, in only his third ITF event of the year. You may remember Ceban winning several Tennis Europe U14 events earlier this year; it seems he has decided to turn his attention to the ITF Junior Tour, and why not? Ceban came through the draw completely unseeded, beating opposition from France, Romania, Italy, and Ukraine to lift the title – his first ever at this level. Ceban will be sticking around in Moldova for another J30 next week, so watch this space.

There was action elsewhere as well: Tom Chapman reached the second round in Tunisia, Emilia Julin lost in the first round in Zimbabwe, Ophelia K Davies won one match in Cyprus, but Sophie Ryland and Amelie Friend didn’t, and most interestingly, there were two new names taking part in the J30 in Uganda: Chidi Ike Okot, 16, reached the semi-finals, while Rio Hanif made the quarters.