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Mark Gregory
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@MarkBGregory
5:02 PM 6th February 2023
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British Tennis Watch – Week 5

 
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 tennis@p.ublished.com.

Week 5 – 30 January–5 February 2023

In this week’s edition:

Great Britain successfully qualifies for the Davis Cup
A quiet week for Brits across both Men’s and Women’s Tours
Two young finalists at junior level

Davis Cup

The important games keep coming across the top level of tennis, and this week saw British men in action in Colombia attempting to qualify for the main draw of the Davis Cup. There were three Brits in action across four singles and doubles matches, and Britain emerged 3-1 victors over Colombia, despite Dan Evans losing his opening match to Nicolas Mejia, a player ranked over 200 places below him on the tour.

Cameron Norrie steadied the ship with a straight-sets victory over Nicolas Barrientos, before Evans and Neal Skupski gave Team GB the advantage with a doubles victory over the Colombian duo. Norrie tied things up with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Mejia in the fourth tie, a win which gave Britain an unassailable advantage and meant the finals singles rubber between Evans and Barrientos wasn’t played.

Britain now joins 12 other teams in the Davis Cup Finals, with the Group Stages set to take place in September.

ATP/WTA Main Tour

With the men’s high-level action limited to the Davis Cup, attention turned to the WTA Tour for a more regular schedule of tournaments.

There were three British women in action at the WTA 250 in Hua Hin, Thailand, this week, with former British number one Heather Watson enjoying an impressive run to the quarter-finals before eventually being beaten by China’s Xin Yu Wang. Watson defeated second seed and world number 47 Yulia Putintseva in a real tussle in the first round – the Brit won fewer points but was able to win the match in a deciding set tiebreak to claim one of her best results in recent memory.

The other two Brits in Thailand were unable to match Watson’s heroics – Harriet Dart was handed a tough draw against former Grand Slam champion Bianca Andreescu in the opening round, and was dispatched 6-3 6-4, while Katie Boulter was beaten in three sets by Korean Su Jeong Jang, winning just 25% of points on her second serve throughout the match.

Elsewhere, at the WTA 250 in Lyon, Katie Swan reached the final qualifying round but was ultimately denied a place in the main draw by Serbian Olga Danilovic.

ATP Challenger Tour / WTA/ITF Futures Tour

100 Level

Liam Broady and Jan Choinski were both in action at the CH100 in Koblenz, and both picked up a win in the first round before exiting in the second. Broady, who was seeded sixth, may have felt he could have progressed further, but he was dispatched fairly routinely by 30-year-old Alexey Vatutin 6-2 6-3 in the second round, while Jan Choinski lost to seventh seed Alexandre Muller of France in three. Both men picked up nine rankings points for their trouble.

80 Level

Just one Brit in action in Australia this week as the tennis season Down Under comes to a close – Naiktha Bains won her opening match against an Australian qualifier with the same surname, Rope Bains. The British Bains won easily, 6-1 6-0, before losing in straight sets in the second round to home hope and seventh seed Lizette Cabrera.

75 Level

A début in this year’s British Tennis Watch this week for 19-year-old Jack Pinnington-Jones, former junior world number 6, who currently sits just outside the top 500 on the senior tour. JPJ was granted a wildcard into the CH75 event in Cleveland and managed an opening round victory against American Ernesto Escobedo, aided partly due to the American’s retirement through injury in the second set – although Jack was already a set and a break to the good. In the second round, Pinnington-Jones was drawn against the top seed, Emilio Gomez of Ecuador, and gave a solid account of himself, eventually going down 6-2 3-6 6-2 in a tightly contested battle.

Elsewhere, three Brits were in action in Tenerife at another CH75 – Dan Cox had the best week, successfully navigating qualifying before reaching the last 16, where he ran into Italian third seed Raul Brancaccio, who defeated the 32-year-old Brit 6-3 6-3. Meanwhile, Ryan Peniston and Jay Clarke ran into each other in the first round, and the result went the way of Peniston, despite Clarke serving for the match on two occasions, both in the second and the third set, and winning more points in total throughout the match. That’s a morale-crushing defeat for Jay who has now dropped out of the world’s top 300 after a difficult opening month of the season.

70 Level

After missing out on the main draw in Sunderland last week, 23-year-old Emily Appleton nipped over to Portugal for the WTA70 tournament in Porto. However, despite being up a set and a break 2-0 in the second set, she collapsed to go down in the three, 2-6 6-4 6-3.

25 Level

No joy in Tunisia this week as all three British qualifying hopefuls at the ITF25 – Ruari McLennan, John Horoz Garner, and Maceo Simpson, lost in the first qualifying round in straight sets.

15 Level

It will be a return to the ATP Rankings for Ryan James Storrie after he won one match at the ITF15 in Egypt this week. Storrie, 24, hasn’t played on tour since January last year, but returned to action with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Slovenian qualifier Maks Lukman. Storrie has a career high ranking of 626, gained in 2018, but was a top-25 junior player, and it would be interesting to see whether he can make a significant return to the tour in the coming weeks.

Junior Tennis

J300 Level

More plentiful British interest at the top level of junior competition this week, with everyone having hightailed it over from Costa Rica to Ecuador for this week’s competition. Phoenix Weir flew the flag the longest in Salinas this week, reaching the quarter-finals of the Boys’ Singles, and his most significant result was a 6-1 6-0 thrashing of second seed Josue Guzman of Peru in the last 16.

Henry Searle once again impressed – he ended last week’s champion Thijs Boogaard’s 37-match winning streak in the opening round with a 6-4 6-0 win over the surely tired Dutchman, while Luca Pow also reached the last 16 before he and Searle were both defeated.

In the Girls’ draw, Isabelle Lacy made the last 16 before losing to fourth seed Mia Slama of the United States, while there were opening-round defeats for Imogen Haddad and Hephzibah Oluwadare. Oliver Bonding, Hugo Coquelin, Ellie Blackford, Daniela Piani, Ruby Cooling, and Given Roach all lost in qualifying.

J60 Level

There was plenty of British interests at the second-lowest level of junior tennis this week in various far-flung areas of the world.

The best result came in Doha, Qatar, in the Girls’ Singles. 15-year-old Flora Johnson, unseeded, made a superb run to the final of the J60, eventually losing 6-4 6-4 to China’s Yiru Chen in the final. The result gives Johnson a wealth of points, putting her back inside the junior top 600. Her compatriot Jadesola Cole also reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual winner Chen and Vlada Kozak reached the last 16. In the Boys’ Singles, Maxwell Castle reached the quarterfinals, while Sergey Rafiee was beaten in qualifying.

Over in South Africa, Josh Manuel was the top seed at the J60 in Durban and got all the way to the final before losing out to Nicolas Robert of France 6-4 6-2 in the final. That was Manuel’s first final since June last year, when he lost in the final of a same-level tournament in Tunisia. In the Girls’ Singles, 14-year-old Sophie Bekker again had an excellent week, reaching the semi-finals before losing out in three tight sets to France’s Shanice Roignot.

Meanwhile, at the J60 in Spain, Roy Keegan – who entered two professional tour tournaments before dropping back down to juniors this week – got some wins on the board for the season by reaching the quarter-finals as the third seed in Manacor. His run was ended by French youngster Niels Villard, 4-6 6-3 6-3.

J30 Level

Sirena Waas reached the quarter-finals of the J30 tournament in Sri Lanka this week. It’s her first quarter-final run of the season, and she remains on the Indian Ocean island for another J30 next week. In the Boys’ draw, Josh Hinton lost in the opening round.

UK Pro League

Week 2 of the UK Pro League came and went this week in Graves, and there was an all-British final in the Men’s draw, and a non-British final in the Women’s – just like in the first week of the competition.

Hamish Stewart was the victor in the Men’s Singles – he defeated George Houghton in a match tiebreaker after the pair shared the opening two sets. Hamish has enjoyed two last-16 berths at UK ITF25s so far this year, and has backed that up with an impressive run in the UK Pro League this week. Third place went to Sean Hodkin, who edged Alexis Canter in a match tiebreaker in the third-place match.

In the Women’s Singles, it was again two non-Brits who conquered the field, with Anna Brogan the only Brit in the top four at the end of the week. She finished third after beating Michelle Dzjachangirova in the third-place match after easily topping her pool.