There were no British qualifiers for the ITF Futures $50k event in Eastbourne, UK this weekend, but this disappointment was more than accounted for in the first round proper, where wildcards Lisa Whybourn, Katy Dunne and Tara Moore pulled of some of their best results of the year to progress to the second round.
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Meanwhile, at the ATP Challenger €42.5k in Manchester, only Ed Corrie made it out of a tough qualifying draw, and he joins wildcards Liam Broady, Lloyd Glasspool, Brydan Klein and Alexander Ward, as well as third seed Dan Evans and direct acceptance James Ward, in the main draw.
Qualifying in Eastbourne was tough for our ladies: with 18 Brits looking to secure their places in the high-level ITF event, only six made it through the first round and just one, Beth Grey, reached the final qualifying round, being eventually hustled out by Ashleigh Barty of Australia. Many of the ladies involved were youngsters, including wildcards Eden Richardson, Lily Ghodrati, Camille Verden Anderson, Megan Davies, Elise Van Heuvelen and Kasia Pitak. Two of these girls, Richardson (d. Emily Arbuthnott 6-3 4-6 6-3) and Verden Anderson (d. Katharina Hering [GER] 6-2 4-6 6-2) won their matches and picked up a single rankings point in the process; the rest fell to fairly comprehensive defeats.
Several Brits succumbed to foreign opposition, while others were victim of Brit-on-Brit clashes: Lucy Brown, Holly Horsfall, fifth seed Emily Webley-Smith and Serena Nash all fell to non-Brits in the first round, while Emma Hurst (l. to Sam Murray), Aimee Gibson (l. to Holly Hutchinson) and Dominique Covington (l. to Katie Boulter) all fell to fellow British opposition. Finally, only Beth Grey and Camille Verden Anderson (mentioned above) were actually able to beat their non-British opponents, with Grey winning 6-2 6-4 over Finn Mia Nicole Eklund.
In the second qualifying round, all but one of our Brits fell: Richardson, Verden Anderson, Boulter and Murray fell to the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th seeds respectively, while Holly Hutchinson lost 6-4 6-2 to Aussie Ashleigh Barty. Only Grey, who beat Yuriko Miyazaki of Japan 6-4 6-4, was able to secure passage to the final qualifying round, but even there she was halted by unranked 20-year-old Barty, who has since gone on to defeat 6th seed Urszula Radwanska in the first round, dropping just three games.
As mentioned above, though, the disappointment of qualifying was offset by the excellent results in the first round proper: four ladies secured wildcards to the event, and while Laura Robson’s tough recovery from injury continued with another first round defeat, this time to 33-year-old Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, Dunne, Moore and Whybourn all secured superb victories and have big chances to go further in the tournament as a result.
Whybourn, ranked #556 in the world, took on third seed Kai-Lin Zhang of China, ranked #117, and secured a mesmerising 2-6 6-3 7-5 comeback victory, saving two match points in the final set to win for the eighth time this year after going a set down. She will now face Spaniard Georgina Garcia Perez in the second round.
Moore, ranked #314 in the world, also upset a seed, fifth seed Ying-Ying Duan of China, ranked #133 in the world, winning 6-4 6-1 in a match that lasted roughly one hour. It’s the highest ranked player Tara has beaten all year, and it gives her an excellent chance to grab some more points in her second round match, which will be against Australian lucky loser Alison Bai, who is ranked below the Brit. The pair have met once before, way back in 2009, with Bai winning in straight sets on the hard courts of Spain.
Finally, Katy Dunne, ranked #298, was the only lady to face a player ranked below her – #336 Melanie Oudin of the United States. The 24-year-old American is a former top 32 player, but Dunne managed to scrape out a 7-6(6) 7-5 victory against the odds to become the third lady in the second round. She’ll face top seed Alison Riske, a top 100 player, in a very tough-looking encounter.
In Manchester, twelve Brits became just one from qualifying, with five Brits coming through the first round of qualifying, thanks to four all-British encounters and one bye for seventh seed Joshua Milton. Dan Smethurst (d. Ross Watson), Luke Bambridge (d. Joe Salisbury), Joshua Sapwell (d. Keelan Oakley) and Ed Corrie (d. Lewis Denton) were the benefactors of all-British clashes, while recent British Tour champion Neil Pauffley fell 4-6 7-5 7-5 to Remi Boutillier of France, and wildcards Max Benaim and Matthew Chadwick both showed little resistance against their non-British opponents.
In the second round of qualifying, Ed Corrie faced seventh seed Joshua Milton, and Corrie condemned the 26-year-old to his fifth consecutive defeat after a 6-4 6-3 victory. Luke Bambridge secured an excellent, although somewhat fortuitous passage to the final qualifying round after his opponent, fourth seeded Aussie Matthew Barton, retired while trailing 7-6(4) 2-6 0-3. Dan Smethurst came close against eighth seed Adrien Bossel of Switzerland, losing 4-6 6-2 6-4, while wildcard Joshua Sapwell will be gutted to have lost 2-6 6-3 7-6(7) against third seed Hiroki Moriya of Japan, especially having had a match point in the deciding tiebreak.
That left just Bambridge and Corrie in the final round, and while Bambridge couldn’t quite get past Bossel, losing 7-5 6-4 after two tight sets, Ed Corrie, who has been in a Challenger final this year, remember, won 6-1 4-6 6-1 against second seed Zhe Li of China to book his place in the main draw.
In the main draw, Broady faces seventh seed Sam Groth for the second time this month; the Aussie is in awful form and Broady will be looking to take advantage once again. Glasspool faces 4th seed Yen-Hsun Lu, the world #100, in what will be a real test of his mettle. Wildcard Brydan Klein meets qualifier Ed Corrie, and with the head-to-head currently tied at 2-2, anything could happen. Alex Ward plays Colombian Alejandro Falla, who played on clay last week, while James Ward plays an Aussie who excels on the grass, Luke Saville. Finally, third seed Dan Evans is set to play German Peter Gojowcyzk; the pair last met in 2013 in the States, where the German secured a straight sets victory.