By Maurice Baldwin, a BATS Member.
This week sees 8 GB young women in the WTA Top 250. This is something that hasn’t happened for many years. It also compares to GB Men with only 4 Top 250 ranked players. The 8th ranked male player is ranked 424!
1 Jo Konta
2 Heather Watson
3 Naomi Broady
4 Gabi Taylor
5 Katie Boulter
6 Laura Robson
7 Harriet Dart
8 Katy Dunne
Some of these names are familiar but I thought I would spotlight some of the players who are less well known to people that don’t follow ITFs
Gabriella Taylor, 20 – Ranked 178
The progress of Gabriella was halted when she was the victim of a mystery food-poisoning scare during Wimbledon Juniors in 2016. The illness caused her to withdraw during her QF match. There was a police investigation and the episode kept her out of the game for 4 months. She returned in October that year and ended the year ranked 361.
2017 was a year of consolidation and further improvement for Gabi with 2 x 25k tournament wins. (Changwon S Korea and Navi Mumbai India) and a Year end ranking 323
In 2018, Gabi turned 20 in March and has emerged as a real force. Picking up from the win in India she has won 3 out of 4 25K tournaments (Launceston, Perth and Mildura) in Australia with a 17-1 W-L record for 2018. In addition at Mildura she teamed with fellow Brit Katy Dunne to take the doubles title.
Gabi’s latest ranking is a career high 173 and an improvement of 145 places in 10 weeks. This sees her as the new GB4 behind Jo Heather and Naomi Broady.
Her next commitment is a 60K tournament in Canberra this week seeded 7 as she moves up to the next ITF level. The new ranking also means that she will be eligible for direct entry to the qualifying events for lucrative grand slams. She has played Wimbledon qualifying 3 times as a wild card. She got her only win in 2014 aged 16 when she defeated the experienced former top 30 player Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden This was only her 3rd senior professional match! I would also expect to see her in the GB Summer WTA Grass court events as she is in pole position for the much coveted wild cards.
Gabi is based in Spain and coached by Xavier Budo and David Sunyer
Gabi is not alone in her climb up the rankings.
Other young women making moves to career-highs this week:
Katy Dunne, 23 – up to 236 GB7
Harriet Dart, 21 – up to 238 GB8
Harriet qualified in 2 x 25K events and went on to reach the final in both, winning in Altenkirchen and ending a 13 match winning streak as she lost in the final in Yokohama Japan. On her way to the final she scored an impressive QF straight sets win over Laura Robson. I have followed Harriet for many years having seen her reach an ITF final at Edgbaston aged 16.
Katy has also played the Australian events alongside Gabi reaching 1 Final (with a win over Laura Robson) IxSF (losing to Gabi) and 1xQF.