Our weekly feature, Brits of the Week, assesses the three most impactful British players from the week just gone, in the opinion of our correspondent Sam Barker.
In the aftermath of recent global tennis discussions it seems almost fitting that this week’s Brits of the Week is probably the most diverse range of talent playing at all levels of the tennis spectrum we’ve had to date. This week involves everyone from those mastering the Masters, to those slogging it out on the AEGON British Tour.
#3 – Heather Watson – Miami Open: Fourth Round
Call me ‘Mr Controversial’ if you like, but I feel like Heather Watson deserves a mention for her dabbles in Miami, even though she only reached the fourth round. After sliding down the rankings over the last year she has made full use of her back-to-back wildcards in the Sunshine Masters events, picking up a bucket-load or points to aid her quest back towards the top #50.
What impressed me was the contrasting nature of her victories. In the opening round she dropped just one game against Petra Cetkovska and then backed that up by demolishing an in-form Sloane Stephens. She followed two simple victories with a tough, hard-fought slog-fest against Yanina Wickmayer in tough conditions, before eventually falling to the superior-ranked Simona Halep.
The frustrating thing about Heather is that we know she can perform to a comfortable top #20 standard – she just struggles to maintain this level for a prolonged period of time. Currently she is stringing together some positive performances and all eyes will be on whether she can keep this up in Poland this week.
— Martin Weston (@martindweston) April 2, 2016
#2 – Paul Jubb – 2nd Qatar ITF Junior Open 2016 (G4): Champion
Qatar has proved to be something of a bedrock for British success over the last few weeks, with Joe Tyler winning the title last week and Megan Davies collecting both girls’ titles over the last two weeks. Paul Jubb rounds out the trio as he surged to his first ITF Junior trophy this week.
Paul came into the tournament unseeded and an opening round draw against the second seed hinted towards a tough week ahead. However a remarkable 6-3 6-0 upset was corroborated by three tight victories to progress to the final, including defeating fifth seeded Brit Will Davies. In the final he found himself against the male half of the Lumsden siblings, dispatching Ewen 6-3 1-6 6-4.
An impressive week for Paul was topped off with double celebrations as he picked up the doubles title alongside defeated finalist Ewen. His Middle-Eastern success is merely the pinnacle of a constructive start to 2016, with Paul having already accumulated a handful of rankings points and progressing well on his first full year on the junior circuit.
— Leon Smith (@LeonSmith) April 3, 2016
#1 – Alex Ward – Tunisia F12 Futures (10K): Champion
Something of a lone ranger as far as the Brits go, Alex very rarely joins forces with the rest of the home contingent. Unlike many of his compatriots, he likes to ply his trade on the red stuff and spends the bulk of his time participating in futures tournaments around Europe. Approaching his 26th birthday, the Brit is really coming into his own.
He spent the last three weeks playing in Tunisia and has amassed quite a remarkable record. Of the thirteen singles matches he has played, he has just a single blot on his scorecard, this week collecting his second title in three weeks. This was no walk in the park either for Alex, as he had to overcome three seeds on the way to his second title of 2016.
The reward for his recent fine form sees the Brit move into the top #300 for the first time in his career. This is a remarkable story of perseverance and dedication considering he has been on the periphery for roundabout six years now. The challenge now for Alex is to try and bridge the gap between futures and challengers events, something that has plagued him so far in his career.
— Samantha Murray (@SamMurray87) April 2, 2016
Just Missed Out
Megan Davies – Back-to-back titles in Doha has turned a drab year into an exception one for Megan. She can now start to consider making the move back to Grade 3 level events.
Johanna Konta – She may not care about her rankings but we certainly do and a superb quarter-final run in Miami moves her to within touching distance of the top #20.
Jake Hersey – A nine-match unbeaten streak was ended in the semi-finals in Antalya. Nevertheless, the 15-year-old is putting some excellent form together in 2016.
Samantha Murray – It’s always a joy to see a friendly face return and it was great to see the former top #200 player claim an AEGON British Tour title this week, nearly two years since she last played in an ITF event.
Jocelyn Rae & Anna Smith – the Great Britain Fed Cup doubles pairing finally did the business this week, picking up an impressive title in Croissy-Beaubourg, France, at an ITF $50k, winning the title there for the second consecutive year.
Do you agree with my decision this week? Should Konta or Davies have made the list? Who would you have replaced to include them?