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.
Shall we just get straight into it this week?
#3 – Alex Ward – KPN Renewables Bangkok Open 2016: Semi-Finals
A few weeks ago, when Alex last made the Brits of the Week for his title in Tunisia, I commented that he needed to make the step up to the challenger circuit to make significant progress. Now I’m not saying that Alex travelled to the far east because I suggested it, but I’d like to think I had a tiny impact. Perhaps? Maybe that is slightly wishful thinking.
Alex Ward going great guns for Britain in Bangkok as he beats Ze Zhang 6-4 1-6 7-5 in QF.Closing in on World's Top 250.
— guy dixon (@guydixon1) May 20, 2016
A first round clash with the third seeded Yuichi Sugita might have seemed cruel on paper, but Alex has been putting some nice form together and promptly defeated the Japanese player 6-3 3-6 6-1. After defeating Adrien Bossel in straight sets he then upset another seed – Ze Zhang of China – to reach his first ever challenger semi-final. He may have lost to qualifier Sam Barry but Barry had the week of his life.
Blowing away his previous career high, Alex is now comfortably inside the top 300 which has a number of perks. Firstly, he has now made it significantly easier to gain direct entry to challenger events. Secondly, he has put himself right in the frame for a Wimbledon wildcard – which would be his first ever Grand Slam appearance. Top 200 by the end of the year? Who knows. Stranger things have happened.
#2 – Farris Gosea – Mexico F3 Futures: Runner-Up
Frequently in tennis you’ll see what appears to be a massive upset when you compare rankings between two players. Often, especially in the lower rankings, these are misleading where players are taking time out either at college or they are just entering the tour for their first few tournaments. Farris Gosea is a prime example of someone who is criminally under-ranked.
This week Farris demonstrated his unquestionable ability with a run of seven straight victories through qualifying and then the main draw to reach his first final since his only ITF title to date back in September 2014. Unfortunately he could not claim the title, with a second loss this year to American Adam El Mihdawy.
In an interview with the BBC back in 2014, Farris exclaimed that his dream was to become a top 20 player. To say he has some work to do would be an understatement and for now a more realistic long-term target would be a spot in the top 200. His exploits in Mexico will certainly move him back inside the top #1000 which should hopefully prevent him having to come through qualifying for quite so many tournaments.
#1 – Harriet Dart – ITF NH NongHyup Goyang Women’s Challenger:Doubles Champion (w. Freya Christie) and Singles Runner-Up
— dunne_katy (@katydunne) May 20, 2016
Throughout the Brits of the Week feature, Harriet has been a regular fixture in the “Just Missed Out” section, making three separate appearances. This week though, her two pronged attack on the field in Korea means that she has finally graduated to the big time, taking the Week 20 Brits of the Week title.
The unseeded Harriet made comprehensive progress in the singles draw, coming through her first three matches 7-5 7-5, 6-1 6-0 and 6-2 6-1. Her semi-final opponent may have been nearly 300 ranking places higher but it was the Brit who stormed through to the final, winning 6-3 7-5. Unfortunately she was unable to collect her first singles title of the year, but made up for it by winning the doubles title alongside Freya Christie.
The popular 19 year old will be exceptionally pleased with her form this week considering its timing right at the start of the grass court season. Grass is hands down Harriet’s favourite surface and she will be hoping that a strong run of form could throw her name into the hat as a potential Wimbledon wildcard. A string of victories at a decent level will be necessary though given her ranking slip.
Just Missed Out
Lloyd Glasspool – His steady rise up the ATP rankings continues as he edges closer to a top #300 spot. A strong quarter-final showing in the Bangkok Challenger.
Francesca Jones – In her first professional ITF event Fran managed to secure a singles victory. She then made full use of a doubles wildcard to reach the final. Start as you mean to go on.
Ewen Lumsden – Similarly to Fran Jones, Ewen also managed a victory in his first tournament main draw, getting himself a first ATP ranking point. He also had to navigate three rounds of qualifying.
Francesca Stephenson – A quarter-final run in the singles and a runner-up trophy in the doubles mark this as a strong week for the 22 year old all round.