British Tennis Watch – Week 28
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 28 – 10–16 July 2023
In this week’s edition:
Henry Searle wins Junior Wimbledon
Mark Ceban wins the U14 invitational at Wimbledon
Toby Samuel clinches the title at the home event in Nottingham.
ATP Challenger Tour / WTA/ITF Futures Tour
With the second week of Wimbledon taking up much of the calendar, British interest at these levels of tennis was sparse, but there were a few things to note.
Emily Appleton managed to sneak into the main draw of the WTA 160 event in Bastad in Sweden this week as an alternate. Unfortunately, she couldn’t capitalise on her fortune: she lost in the first round 6-3 6-2.
After a modest week at Wimbledon, Jan Choinski, the German-turned-Brit, made his way back over to Germany for the CH125 in Braunschweig. Choinski was unseeded, but his second-round appearance at the All England Club must have given him confidence ahead of his first-round match against second seed Alex Molcan: Choinski dropped the first set, but surged back to level the match after the second and then clinch it with a tiebreak in the third. Choinski marched past his second-round opponent in a similar fashion, winning in a third-set tiebreak, before fifth seed Pavel Kotov slammed on the brakes in the quarter-finals.
Aidan McHugh was in action once again at the CH75 in the States: it was Chicago this week that hosted the ATP Challenger event, but McHugh couldn’t emulate his performance in last week’s qualifying event – he lost in his opening qualifying match in three tough sets to Thai-Son Kwiatkowski.
There was a nice story in Spain this week at the ITF50 in Don Benito: Iman Khan, 19, won her first ever ITF main draw match at this level after qualifying for the main draw and beating a fellow qualifier in straight sets in the first round. Khan had won a 10-Level match in Spain last year, and has a career-high junior ranking inside the top 900.
She was also the last Brit standing in the draw after Jasmine Conway and Aryana Bartlett lost their first round matches (with Bartlett coming into the draw as a lucky loser). Ananya Vartak lost in qualifying.
Elsewhere, in Portugal, a decent run to the quarter-finals was put together by Katy Dunne, who continues to plug away on the tour. Dunne beat the fourth seed in the second round before ultimately losing to the fifth seed in the quarters, while Sarah Beth Grey and Holly Hutchinson couldn’t make it out of qualifying.
Seven out of the eight players in the quarter-finals of the ITF25 event in Nottingham this week were Brits, so the chances of getting a British winner were high. And it proved to be a good bet, although it was perhaps a winner that not many many have been expecting.
Unseeded Toby Samuel beat third seed Billy Harris in the final 6-4 6-4. Harris, remember, had gone all the way to the final qualifying round of Wimbledon and, as such, has had plenty of play on grass so far this month, but Samuel, 20, got the better of the 28-year-old to win his first title of the year.
It was quite a remarkable run for Samuel, who had previously won only two of seven matches all year, but a straight-sets win over Aussie Luke Saville in the first round set Samuel up for a run to the title without dropping a single set. Fellow Brits Billy Blaydes and Dan Cox were dispatched en route.
Cox and Charles Broom, the Ilkley Challenger quarter-finalist, were the beaten semi-finalists, while former British junior number one Jack Pinnington Jones, wildcard Connor Thomson, and Patrick Brady were the beaten quarter-finalists.
Elsewhere, Felix Gill made a decent run to the quarter-finals of the ITF25 event in Roda de Berà in Spain this week. His second-round victory came against third seed Alibek Kachmazov, a player ranked almost 300 places ahead of him. Meanwhile in Dallas, Texas, Louis Bowden couldn’t get out of qualifying despite being seeded to do so.
Oliver Tarvet’s title run two weeks ago still hadn’t affected his ranking by the time the draw sheet came out for the ITF15 in Monastir, Tunisia this week, because the rankings don’t update until Wimbledon is finished. Therefore, the young Brit was required to enter the qualifying draw once again – probably for the last time – and was drawn against 14-year-old American Carel Ngounoue (the brother of Clervie Ngounoue, who won the Wimbledon Girls’ title this week). Tarvet won the match 6-3 6-3, but had to withdraw from his second qualifying round match – we hope Oliver is okay.
There were first qualifying round defeats in Tunisia for Peter Alam, Elbert Barr, Kai Cowcher, and Firas Fakhera.
In China, Mattias Southcombe continues the grind: he made the main draw this week, coming through two qualifying matches and a bye to do so, but was drawn against the second seed in the first round proper, Hanwen Li of China. Despite this, the 20-year-old Brit put up a decent fight, clinching the first set before eventually letting the match slide – his first serve percentage facing breakpoints ended up at just 33% as he was broken seven times during the match.
Finally, in Lakewood, California, Lui Maxted and Giacomo Revelli both lost their only matches of the week – Maxted in qualifying, and Revelli in the main draw.
Not a lot to write home about here – Abigail Amos lost in the first round in Tunisia, with Naomi Jackson failing to get through qualifying, while Sarah Tatu also failed to win a match at the ITF10 in Romania.
Well then. We’ve been talking up Henry Searle over the last few months after some promising performances on the junior tour, and that promise came to ultimate fruition this week as he became the first Brit in over 60 years to win the Junior Wimbledon title.
Searle’s week began encouragingly with a straight-sets victory over top seed and junior number two Juan Carlos Prado Angelo, who is less used to grass than some of the Brits he has been playing this and last week. Searle surged through the draw to the quarter-finals with some ease, dropping just eleven games in his second- and third-round combined, before meeting eighth seed Joao Fonseca of Brazil in the quarters. Fonseca had won the J300 title in Roehampton the previous week and was currently enjoying a nine-match winning streak, but Searle dispatched the junior number 10 with ease, 7-6(3) 6-3 to reach the semis.
Fourth seed Cooper Williams of the United States awaited, but in an almost identical scoreline, Searle booked his place in the final by winning 7-6(4) 6-3, and there he faced Yaroslav Demin, whose run to the final would ensure, no matter what happened, that he would become the junior number 1 at the end of the tournament. Searle, who still has a year left of eligibility on the junior tour, played some superb tennis and served brilliantly – even hitting serves of over 130mph – and emerged the champion with a 6-4 6-4 victory, making history in the process.
Searle now rises to sixth in the ITF Junior Boys’ rankings, but like many of his peers, may well choose to have a bash at the senior tour rather than defend his title ahead of next year’s competition. We shall have to wait and see.
Of course, there were other Brits in action at junior Wimbledon too: Charlie Robertson, Viktor Frydrych, Henry Jefferson and Freddy Blaydes all reached the second round in the Boys’ draw, while Ranah Stoiber and Mika Stojsavljevic were both quarter-finalists in the Girls’ draw, with hit prospects Hannah Klugman and Mingge Xu making the last 16.
At the J100 event in the Dominican Republic, Flora Johnson reached the second round before running into the top seed in the second. Despite a positive performance, she was beaten 6-4 6-3. Marcus Weekes lost in the first round in the Boys’ draw.
Some decent runs at J60 level this week: 15-year-old Macy Denney-Richards, seeded eleventh, came through to the quarter-finals of the J60 in The Hague, winning three consecutive matches to do so, while Charlie Swaine reached the third round. Dan Hughes and Arabella Loftus lost their first-round matches. In Georgia, meanwhile, Aryan Jit Singh was back in action, and he reached the quarter-finals as the third seed.
There was a J30 event in Dublin this week for the Boys and the Girls, and there was a female winner in the form of Francesca Simpson. Simpson, 16, was in Edinburgh the previous week and was beaten in the first round, but strung together five victories to clinch an unlikely title as an unseeded player in the competition. She was surrounded by Irish players in the semi-finals but managed to emerge above them all, while there was a quarter-final appearance for Sophia Kovacheva, and a second-round defeat for Allegra Hodson.
In the Boys’ draw, we also had a finalist: eighth seed Samuel Chadwick has been quite active in the UK’s junior events so far this year, with this one being his seventh in the UK or Ireland since February. But this was easily his best result, coming through to the final as the eighth seed and only narrowly missing out, losing 7-5 6-4 to Ireland’s Patrick Marsh in the final. Chadwick was the only Brit to win a match in the Boys’ draw, with ten boys being eliminated in the first round.
Elsewhere, 15-year-old Liam Channon reached the quarter-finals in Denmark, with Henry Best losing in the first round, while Emilia Julia went one better by reaching the semis in Kenya, with Rafael Kiss reaching the third round and his sister, Karina, losing in round one. And finally, at the J30 in Belgium, Eloise Newberry lost in the first round.
While not an official part of the ITF junior tour, nor the Tennis Europe tour, there was an invitational U14s event that ran alongside everything else going on at Wimbledon this year, and there was a familiar face who triumphed over the rest of the field.
The event started off as a round-robin, with each of the sixteen competitors being drawn into one of four groups. The British interest in the Boys’ event came in the form of Mark Ceban, the top seed, Rhys Lawlor, the eighth seed, and the unseeded Leo Wright. All the Brits won at least one of their matches, but Lawlor and Wright both narrowly missed out on qualifying for the semi-finals, as only the group winner made it through. Ceban, though, won all three of his group matches and went all the way to the final, where he came up against Slovenian Svit Suljic. Ceban won in straight sets to clinch the title and further stamp his authority on his age group – he is definitely one to watch over the coming years.
There were two Brits in action in the Girls’ draw – Hollie Smart was seeded fourth and won all three of her group matches, while Edie Griffiths entered unseeded and unfortunately lost all three of hers. Smart, however, carried the British flag all the way to the final, where she faced Luna Vujovic of Serbia, who had lost one of her group matches but still managed to squeak her way through to the semis. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for Smart, who went down rather tamely, 6-3 6-1 in the final, but a good week for two of our youngest rising stars nevertheless.
There was a Grade 1 British Tour event in Paddington, Middlesex this week. In the Men’s draw, William Nolan defeated qualifier Daniel Bird to clinch the title, with Raffaello Papajcik and William McLennaghan beaten semi-finalists. In the Women’s draw, qualifier Tia Bonita Jakupovic-Kljako ‘defeated’ Kate Mansfield in the final due to Kate retiring. Isabella Walker and Alessia Popescu were the beaten semi-finalists.