Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Mark Gregory
4:21 PM 6th March 2023

British Tennis Watch – Week 9

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 9 – 27 February – 5 March

In this week’s edition:

Injuries ravage British hopes across the board this week
Francesca Jones continues her injury recovery
14-year-old Annabel Hristova wins a J60 event in Norway.

ATP/WTA Main Tour

500 Level

It was a quiet week for British men at ATP 500 level this week. Cameron Norrie, following his title in Rio de Janeiro, was entered to play in Acapulco, Mexico, this week, but ended up withdrawing with fatigue. Andy Murray and Dan Evans were scheduled to play in Dubai, but Murray withdrew before playing a match – most likely down to his exploits in Doha last week – and Evans managed just four games in his opening round game before also retiring from injury. We wish all three men a swift and full recovery ahead of the Indian Wells Masters event this week.

250 Level

It was over to the British women at 250 Level this week, as the WTA event in Austin, Texas rolled into town – a warm-up event for next week’s Indian Wells 1000 event. There were four women involved in the event, but it was former British number one Heather Watson, 30, who outshone her younger compatriots by reaching the last 16 as a qualifier. Watson, alongside Katie Boulter, came through qualifying and secured an impressive straight-sets victory over Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic before running into Sloane Stephens in the second round. The American former world number three was too good for Watson, winning 6-4 6-4.

Boulter, 26, lost her first round match to American wildcard Peyton Stearns following three tiebreaks, while Britain’s only direct entrant, Harriet Dart, lost to 18-year-old lucky loser Erika Andreeva. Jodie Burrage was seeded first in qualifying but lost her opener.

ATP Challenger Tour / WTA/ITF Futures Tour

100 Level

Jay Clarke got two bites at the cherry this week in Pune, India, at the CH100 event. The Brit was seeded first in qualifying and reached the final qualifying round, only to lose to Korean Yunseong Chung in straight sets – after collapsing 7-0 in the first set tiebreak. However, Clarke was fortunate enough to earn a lucky loser spot into the main draw following a withdrawal, so had a second chance to make an impact on the event. Sadly, it wasn’t to be: Jay lost 6-0 6-2 in a rather one-sided affair.

80 Level

Slim pickings at this level this week – the only entrant was 32-year-old Ines James, unranked, who reached her career high of just outside the top 1000 back in 2009, and who hasn’t played a tour level match since 2017. It was a modest return to the tour for James at the ITF80 in the US: shelost 7-5 6-3 in the first round of qualifying to seventh seed Juliette Mazzoni of France.

75 Level

Alastair Gray, 24, was in qualifying for the CH75 event in Waco, Texas this week, but like many of his fellow Brits this week succumbed to injury early on – he was trailing 5-3 in the opening set against Keegan Smith of the United States before being forced out with a knock.

70 Level

25-year-old Anna Brogan faced two young starlets at the ITF70 in Astana, Kazakhstan this week. Seeded ninth in qualifying, Brogan beat the first one – 19-year-old Daria Lopatetska of Ukraine – in three sets, before losing out to 18-year-old Ella Seidel of Germany in the final round of qualifying.

50 Level

Francesca Jones, on her way back from injury, had the best week among the women at 50 Level this week out in Argentina on the clay. Unusually for this level of tennis, the draw was filled with 48 players rather than the standard 32, which meant that Jones had to win two matches to reach the round of 16 – however, she was able to do just that, beating the third seed Gabriela Ce in the process, before eventually running out of steam in a 5-7 6-1 6-4 defeat to fourteenth seed Emily Seibold of Germany in the third round.

Meanwhile, Sofia Johnson and Bronte Murgett were both in qualifying for the ITF50 in Spring, Texas, this week, with both ladies currently at college in the States. It was Murgett was impressed, the 23-year-old coming through qualifying to reach the main draw and picking up a WTA ranking point in the process – although she’ll need at least two more to earn herself a ranking on the tour itself. Johnson, 18, won her first match but couldn’t get past South Africa’s Gabriella Broadfoot in the final qualifying round.

Meanwhile, still plugging away on the grass of Australia, Naiktha Bains won her opening match against lucky loser Anastasia Berezov 6-1 6-0 before losing 6-2 6-1 in the second round. In Bengaluru, India, Eden Silva won one match in the main draw before seeded opposition got the better of her in the second round, while Katy Dunne had to retire from her first qualifying match with an injury. In Toronta, Canada, Jasmine Conway lost 6-1 6-2 in her first round match.

Finally, unranked 16-year-old Georgina Hays almost got herself into the main draw of the event in France this week after squeezing past China’s XinXin Yao (ranked just outside the top 500) in the first qualifying round before almost springing another shock against Denmark’s Olga Helmi in the final qualifying round. She’s in France again next week, looking to go one better and make the main draw.

25 Level

The best viewing at ITF25 level this week was in Torello, Spain, where Britain produced a quarter-finalist in the shape of Charles Broom. Broom was joined by Mark Whitehouse and 16-year-old wildcard Zach Stephens in the main draw – while Stephens lost in the first round while putting up a good fight, Whitehouse and Broom both reached the second round where they faced each other. Broom, seeded fifth, lost the opening set to the unseeded Whitehouse, but came back from a set down for the third time on tour this year to win the match 6-7(5) 6-4 6-0, saving 11 of 13 breakpoints faced during the match. Broom couldn’t get any further though – he lost in the quarters 6-4 6-3 to France’s Maxime Chazal.

Meanwhile, in Loule, Portugal, five British men were involved. Eighth seeded Billy Harris had the best week, winning his first round match against a local qualifier before losing in the last 16. Aidan McHugh and Sean Hodkin – who had done exceptionally well to get out of the qualifying draw – both lost their first round matches. Harry Wendelken and Mason Dace were the other two British men who didn’t get out of the qualifying draw – though Wendelken was inches away, losing 10-4 in a match tiebreak in the final qualifying round.

15 Level

Several British men tried and failed to progress deep into the lower level senior tournaments this week: in Naples, Florida, Toby Martin and Adam Jones lost their opening qualifying matches before Blu Baker lost in the first round of the main draw; in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Louis Bowden couldn’t quite reach the main draw, while Ryan Storrie lost his opening match to the previous week’s champion, Marat Sharipov; in Turkey, 16-year-old Ersel Kalfaoglu and 22-year-old Joseph White won one qualifying match before losing the next; in Tunisia, Freddy Blaydes reached the final round of qualifying before being beaten in straight sets, while Elbert Barr couldn’t get through his first qualifying match; and finally, Ying Hoo lost 6-1 6-2 in his first qualifying match in Aktobe. Not quite a total wipeout, but certainly not a successful week for the Brits!

10 Level

A decent week for Emilie Lindh again this week as she reached a second successive quarter-final in Egypt. Seeded fifth, she battled through two three-set matches in the opening two rounds before eventually succumbing to Korean opponent Eunhye Lee in the quarters. Abigail Amos and Yasmina El Sayed both failed to get out of qualifying.

Meanwhile, Manacor in Spain was again host to an array of British players, but only one lady won a match in qualifying: 17-year-old Niamh Campbell beat local opposition reach the second qualifying round but got no further, while Alisha Reader, Aryana Bartlett, Regina Ristic-North, and Caterina Revelli all lost in the first qualifying round.

Junior Tennis

J200 Level

A step up this week for Josh Manuel, who made two J60 finals in South Africa before arriving at the J200 in Thailand as a qualifier. And the 17-year-old made a good fist of it, coming through qualifying and winning his first round match against local wildcard Pannawat Suttisomboon 6-4 6-1 to reach the second round and pick up a handful of ranking points in the process. The journey ended there, though – Japanese ninth seed Reiya Hattori proved to be too strong, winning 7-5 6-3.

J100 Level

Some action at the J100 in South Africa this week, as Allegra K Davies made a decent run to the quarter-finals as the fourth seed before eventually losing to Denmark’s Laura Brunkel. In the Boys’ draw, Max Carrier and Max Castle both won their first round matches before being eliminated in the second round.

J60 Level


And we finally have a winner! If you’re still reading, it was worth the wait, as two British Girls made the final of the J60 in Gjovik, Norway this week, and it was the younger of the two who came away with the title – Annabel Hristova, 14, beat 16-year-old top seed Vlada Kozak to clinch the title in an all-British affair, with Hristova emerging 6-2 6-2 victor in a dominant performance in the final. And it was very nearly an all-British semi-final line-up, too, with eighth seed Isabella Gibson, 17, also making the semis (losing to Hristova 6-1 6-4). It was only Sirena Waas who couldn’t complete the line-up – she lost 5-7 6-3 6-3 to Czech fifth seed Ellen Katzerova in the quarter-finals.

A great result, then, for Hristova, who has only played six ITF Junior events prior to this one, all of which were at J30 level – so to have clinched a J60 title with such aplomb is a massive result for her and will propel her nicely up the rankings as a result.

J30 Level

14-year-old Sophie Bekker reached her second J30 semi-final of the year in Bahrain this week as the top seed. She was eventually stopped by Bulgarian third seed Emma Fantusis. Fantusis also beat the other British girl in the draw, Alice Haddad, also 14, in the quarter-finals – but a good week for both youngsters at the entry level to the ITF junior tour.

Tennis Europe

U14 Level

There was a second ‘Super Category’ event at U14 level in the Tennis Europe tour this week – that’s the same level that Mark Ceban won in France back in February. Ceban was back in action at the event and the top seed in the Boys’ draw, but he couldn’t quite back up his win at Les Petits As this week – he did reach the semi-finals, though, before eventually losing out to eventual champion Savva Rybkin 6-3 7-6(3).

There were other British challengers in the draw, too, but their journeys ended in the second round or earlier, with qualifier Matthew McLain, as well as girls Awen Gwilym-Davies and Ophelia K Davies, all reaching the second round.