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.
They say success comes at a price. In this circumstance, the success of British tennis stars comes at the price of me having to pick just three of them. So many titles and finalists and so little room to squeeze them all in. Nevertheless, I’ll give it my best shot.
— Samantha Murray (@SamMurray87) May 1, 2016
#3 – Samantha Murray – Egypt $10k Futures: Runner-Up
Murray. It’s a relatively well-known name in tennis. There are a couple that you might have stumbled across if you’ve flicked through a newspaper or two over the last few years. However, it’s the lesser known, female Murray that makes the headlines this week as she continues to return from a long-term injury. There has been plenty of talk about the length of time it’s taking Laura Robson to return to her best but it’s been a very different story for Sam.
The 28 year old was playing just her second tournament since July 2014 this week, but barely looked as though she had been away. She crushed the top seeds in both the singles and doubles events and, remarkably given her lack of match time, reached the final of both. She managed to secure the doubles title alongside Despina Papamichail but ran out of steam in the singles final losing 6-3 6-4. Understandable given that it was her ninth match of the week.
Dan Evans career revival means GB will have four male single players in top 100 for first time in 37 years https://t.co/2OYT3CocVt
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) May 2, 2016
In the past Sam has been well inside the top 200 and, at just 28, will be looking to return there. She has clicked into gear early in her comeback but still needs to play one more tournament to get back a WTA ranking. There is a cluster of British women between 300 and 400 and I would not be surprised to see Sam back around there sooner rather than later.
#2 – Dan Evans – ATP Challenger $75k, Taipei, Taiwan: Winner
When you think about James Ward and the constant struggle he had in trying to break into the top #100 before being viciously chewed and spat back out you get the feeling it is an undesirable and near-impossible task. Dan shattered that myth this week, as he cut his ranking from triple to double figures at his first attempt.
Choosing to ignore the clay season and play a quartet of Asian challengers has paid dividends for the Brummie lad, who in winning the title in Taipei will became the fourth British male in the top #100 – the first time this has happened since the 1970s. What struck me was how well Dan dealt with the situation, never looking overawed by the possibility of cracking the top #100 and actually coming from a set down in his final.
The doubts have always been there with Dan. The dominating question has always been whether he has the desire to compete at the highest level week-in-week-out. The Answer – yes. Dan has brushed aside critics to surge into the top tier of global tennis. With the British grass season approaching Dan will probably get a crack at some ATP Tour events and I would fully expect him to cause some tremendous upsets.
— jodie burrage (@jodieburrage) May 1, 2016
#1 – Jodie Anna Burrage – 33° Torneo Internazionale Under 18 di Salsomaggiore Terme: Singles & Doubles Champion
One way of getting into the Brits of the Week feature is to reach two finals and win one of them, as Sam showed. A way of making it even higher up the list is to go and win both of them. That is exactly what Jodie managed. The 16 year old has made plenty of appearances in the ‘Just Missed Out’ section but has finally graduated to the top three.
The youngster has been in superb form this year with one grade two and two grade three singles finals already. This week’s fourth singles final will finally see her breach the gap into the juniors top #100. Success came on both fronts though, as she managed to collect both the singles and doubles titles, despite being unseeded in the singles and seeded just third in the doubles.
I feel like a stuck record each week, declaring these youngsters as ‘hot prospects’ but the reality is that British tennis has a handful of promising youngsters and Jodie is one of them. She has shown unquestionable progression in 2016 and is performing consistently at a Grade 2 standard. The next level up will be a real indicator of quite how ready she is to compete with the very best.
Just Missed Out
Amanda Carreras – Came through qualifying to reach the final of only her second ever 25K. Heading towards yet another career high. She has had a superb spring.
Lisa Whybourn – Lisa put up a stellar fight on two fronts this week, claiming the doubles title whilst reaching the semi-finals of the singles in Italy.
Alastair Gray – Joining Jodie in Italy was Alastair who had another steady and successful week. A doubles runner-up spot and a singles semi-final were the prizes for his efforts.
Emma Raducanu – A title winner in at Category 2 U14 event in Prague. Held her nerve in the final to come through two tight tie-breaks after losing the first set.
Liam Broady – With match practice under his belt the leftie looks to be returning to his best. We were just denied an all-British challenger final as he fell in the semi-finals in Taipei.