8 British Women Now in the WTA Top 250

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.

Davis Cup Semi Final- Great Britain v. Argentina 16-18 September 2016, Glasgow

BATS members were out in force to support Great Britain as they attempted to reach a second successive Davis Cup Final against Argentina. Great Britain recovered from a 0-2 opening day deficit to level the tie at 2-2 before Leonardo Mayer defeated Dan Evans in the final rubber. Argentina now progress to play Croatia in the final. We wish them the best of luck!

Here are some images from a fantastic weekend in Glasgow, courtesy of member Ashe Hussain.

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Image Copyright Ashe Hussain 2016.

Davis Cup GB v Serbia, July 2016

Davis Cup Quarter Final – Serbia July 15th – 17th

By Carole Green

About ninety BATS members made their way to Serbia for the Davis Cup Quarter Final. Pre ordered tickets to the event were being collected from the Palace Hotel on the Thursday evening and a group of us then went on to the Question Mark Kafana (the oldest in Belgrade) for a traditional Serbian meal. We sat outside, in a delightful courtyard, a local band was gently playing, we were being served good food, good wine – the perfect start to a nice weekend.

The tennis was to begin at 4pm on the Friday afternoon (because Beldgrade is usually hot at this time of the year) – what we were not expecting however, was such awful weather.

We had been supplied with the regulation supporter t-shirts and we must have looked a formidable sight, filling up our side of the terraces alongside the Barmy Army. Old friends got together again and new friendships were made.

There was not too much of an opening ceremony and the tennis got underway to several rain delays. We very quickly discovered that our ‘seats’ were actually concrete steps – not the most comfortable and they soon became awash with the rain. Kyle Edmund was playing the first match against Janko Tipsarevic and he had won the first set 6-3 when the first rain delay stopped play. Tipsarevic clearly was not happy with the weather and could not settle down. The second set got underway but then the heavens really opened. Many of us got so wet that we gave up and made our way back to our respective accommodations. It was quite disappointing to find out afterward – that despite the weather – play resumed without us. Kyle won the rubber 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.

Needless to say the Barmy Army and a few other diehards stayed until the bitter end but a shame that the guys had to play in such wet conditions and in front of so few fans.

I should mention also, that Andy Murray, despite not playing, was there with us, every step of the way, through rain and sunshine, supporting the team.

The Saturday tennis began earlier than planned with the second singles rubber, which should have taken place the night before. James Ward took on Dusan Lajovic but despite valiant efforts he lost 1-6, 3-6, 2-6. The tie was one point each.

Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot then played their doubles against Nenad Zimonjic and Filip Krajinovic. Some really good doubles play with Team GB coming out on top 6-1, 6-7(2). 6-3, 6-4.

The Barmy Army were in fine form – their big drum had been returned to them – after being confiscated at the gates the day before. At this point I should mention that the Serb people – who have the number one player in the world in Novak, did not appear to be too interested in tennis. Their side of the terraces were nearly empty but those who were there were absolutely mesmerised by the GB fans and their support. I can still see the faces of the security guys around the arena – looking on incredulously at our typical fan behaviour. I think they were expecting football type fan behaviour and instead were met with a chanting, swaying and very friendly sea of blue.

The Sunday tennis started in grand style – with a visit to our side of the terraces by the Duchess of Gloucester, the British Ambassador and the President of the LTA. They had come along to express appreciation for our support. They spent quite some time with us – but eventually retreated to their comfy seats in the VIP area. GB supporters nevertheless.

Today the Serbian terraces were much more supported – maybe because it was a Sunday. Kyle was to start the first match – playing Dusan Lajovic. He played so very well – won the first two sets 6-3, 6-4. The third set was tight but he came out the victor at 7-6 (tiebreak). GB 3 Serbia 1. Job done. So overcome was he, that the final winning point saw him dropping to the ground – sprawled out with delight.

A token three setter then took place between James Ward and Janko Tipsarevic with Janko wining 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. At one set all – the third set was close and it so very nearly went James’s way.

The nicest part of this last rubber was the crowd support. The GB fans were chanting for Janko just as much as they were chanting for James. Even the court raker had a chant dedicated to him.

The atmosphere was unbelievable – such camaraderie between both sets of fans. The Serbian fans had learnt our chants by now – well they had been drummed into them for the past three days and I am sure they will recite them again and again, when they next attend tennis matches.

Apart from the tennis, we also had time to explore many parts of Belgrade. Free walking tours were on offer – they prove to be most informative and interesting, an open top bus covered many areas of both the Old and New Belgrade. The icing on the cake had to be the day tour, organised by Mary Pope, to take in the East of Serbia following the River Danube. It was a full day of touring – ancient fortress, archaeological site, high points of the Danube, coffee stops and a healthy, organic meal served from a viewpoint over the Danube. So many diverse interests crammed into one day.

Well the tie is over and the groundsmen might well, by now, have recovered from their efforts over the past weekend. So much sand pushing and shovelling, raking, stamping of divots and pushing the rolling machine over and over again.

Last by certainly not least our thanks must go to Mary for all her patience and perseverance – organising our tickets and keeping us informed with what was happening

As for me, the tie has been played and Team GB won – roll on the semi-final.

Reflections on a Golden Summer for British Tennis

Summer is always an exciting time for any British tennis fan, however this year was particularly special, with the prospect of an exciting two weeks of Wimbledon action, followed by Britain’s Davis Cup quarter-final in Serbia and the Olympics in Rio. Could Andy Murray enjoy another golden summer and rekindle those fabulous memories of 2012 and 2013? Would Johanna Konta continue her breakthrough season and earn a special prize? How would Jamie Murray get on after achieving the top spot in the doubles rankings? Could Great Britain reach the Davis Cup semi-finals once again?

Things certainly looked promising for Andy Murray, who arrived at Queen’s on the back of his best ever showing at the French Open. There was also the intriguing matter of Ivan Lendl being back in his players’ box – and we all know what happened last time the two linked up!

Andy certainly didn’t disappoint at the West London event, which traditionally signals the start of the British grass court season. He successfully defended his title and with it took home the trophy for a record fifth time, which is a truly remarkable achievement by any standards.

There were other notable performances at Queen’s, Eastbourne and Nottingham, with Kyle Edmund reaching the Queen’s quarterfinals and Tara Moore enjoying a dream run to reach the same stage in Nottingham. Johanna Konta played some divine tennis at Devonshire Park, beating two-time Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova on her way to a semi-final showing. Jo’s rise to the top of the game over the last year has truly been a joy to watch.

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At Wimbledon, the success for the Brits only grew in strength. The final Sunday will certainly be remembered as one of the greatest ever days in British tennis history, with British players winning an almost unbelievable four titles in a single day…

Gordon Reid was the first to taste victory in the inaugural men’s wheelchair singles. It was certainly a memorable few days for the Scot, who also won the doubles event just a day earlier alongside partner Alfie Hewett. The triumph was quickly being followed by success for Jordanne Whiley, who won the women’s wheelchair doubles with partner Yui Kamiji of Japan.

Of course, all eyes focused in on Andy Murray, who faced Milos Raonic in the men’s singles final. Could the man from Dunblane take home a second Wimbledon crown?

It was never going to be an easy match against the big serving Canadian, however we all know that Andy is one of the greatest returners ever to play the game, and ultimately it was this that proved to be the crucial factor. It is hard to comprehend what Andy has done for the sport in this country, and I for one certainly don’t mind admitting that I shed a tear or two as he lifted the trophy for a second time. Straight sets victories don’t get more memorable than this!

The day wasn’t done yet though, with the final icing on the cake being provided by Heather Watson and partner Henri Kontinen, who laughed and giggled their way to victory in the mixed doubles. What a day. What a Wimbledon.

The gruelling tennis season means that there is virtually no time for players to sit back and enjoy their successes, and only a few days passed before it was time to turn our attention to the Davis Cup and Great Britain’s quarterfinal against Serbia.

Andy Murray wisely chose to sit out the tie but made the trip to Belgrade to offer his support. It was Kyle Edmund who proved to be the star of the show, with the man from Beverley winning both of his singles matches against Janko Tipsarevic and Dusan Lajovic in straight sets. On the Saturday, Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot teamed up to win a crucial hard fought doubles rubber and help GB to victory. We had reached the semi-finals once again!

Defending champions Great Britain are once again through to the semi-finals.
Defending champions Great Britain are once again through to the semi-finals.

By the following week, it was Johanna Konta who was making all the headlines, with her stunning victory over seven-time Grand Slam Champion Venus Williams in the Stanford final earning her a first title on the WTA tour.

It had already been quite a summer for Britain – and there were still the Olympics to come.

In Rio, all eyes were back on Andy Murray, who also had the huge honour of being the Team GB flag bearer. His golden triumph in London four years earlier had kick-started an unforgettable period for the Scot, so it was certainly going to be interesting to see whether he could claim victory again.

It is clear how much the Olympics means to both Andy and Jamie, and before the event began the brothers would have had high hopes of winning Gold in the doubles event. Whilst that particular achievement wasn’t quite to be, Andy once again produced his very best tennis in the singles and came through some extremely tough matches to win an historic second Gold medal. The Gold medal match itself was an incredible spectacle, and you’d do well to witness a better match, or indeed a better atmosphere, in the whole year.

Andy’s triumph in Rio was an incredible finale to a golden summer for British tennis – and one that will certainly live long in the memory. Never before can I remember such consistent success, and it was truly wonderful to witness the many moments of brilliance we have enjoyed over the last few months.

As I say, the relentless tennis season means that the next big event is never far away, and attentions will now turn to the US Open and forthcoming Davis Cup semi-final against Argentina. Whatever happens, it is going to be exciting!

Louise Hunt’s Road to Rio 2016

Louise was our guest last weekend at the BATS AGM and tournament in Basingstoke. She presented the trophies on court at the end of the afternoon and she says “I really enjoyed meeting you all… I would like to thank you all again so much for your kind donation to support me on my road to Rio”

BATS was very pleased to be able to present Louise with £500 to help her on her “Road to Rio” and we all look

forward to hearing about her experience at the 2016 Paralympics later this year.

Next week, Louise is off to Romania to compete in the ITF (Grade 3) tournament, before heading to Tokyo for the World Team Cup. Then she travels to Korea for 2 weeks of ITF (Grade 1) tournaments.

Davis Cup Final in Ghent – Great Britain v Belgium

Cast your mind back to 2010 and you’ll probably recall a low point in British tennis history. Great Britain’s 2-3 loss to Lithuania in the Europe/Africa Zone Group II first-round left us staring at life in the bottom rung of the competition and an unenviable relegation play-off against Turkey in Eastbourne four months later.

As I sat pondering on this before the final, I couldn’t quite believe it was just five years ago. Britain would of course go on to win that tie in Eastbourne 5-0, and with it they would kick-start Britain’s remarkable climb up the Davis Cup ladder to the point we now found ourselves in – a final against Belgium and the chance to win the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 years.

Could we take that final step and bring home the trophy?

As I headed to the Belgian city of Ghent, I’ll admit that I felt a little anxious about the tie. Whilst we were the favourites on paper, re-writing the history books certainly wouldn’t be easy.

Adding to the tension was the on-going security situation in Brussels, a city that’s less than 40 miles away from the venue. In the days before the final there were even question marks over whether the tie would actually go ahead.

Upon arriving in Ghent I immediately laid to rest any concerns I had. This city is really something special, with beautiful canals and walkways set against stunning medieval architecture. It’s truly a hidden gem, and although there was heightened security for the tie, the truth is that nobody gave it much thought once we were there.

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Onto the Friday and it was time for the final to get underway. The sense of excitement and anticipation amongst everyone inside the Flanders Expo was huge, and I can’t ever recall experiencing such a raucous atmosphere inside a tennis arena. Davis Cup ties are always noisy, but this was something else.

The first match saw Kyle Edmund taking on David Goffin. Facing the Belgian no.1 was always going to be difficult, however Kyle played a quite unbelievable match and really pushed the world no.16 to the limit.

Despite Goffin ultimately coming through 3-6 1-6 6-2 6-1 6-0, the man from East Yorkshire certainly showed what he is capable of and displayed more than a few signs that he could go on to be a great player. The first two sets in particular were a prime showcase of his effective brand of heavy-hitting tennis.

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The second singles match placed Andy Murray against Ruben Bemelmans. Andy was always a massive favourite to win this match and so it proved. He took it comfortably, winning 6-3 6-2 7-5 to level the final at 1-1.

In any Davis Cup tie there is always an added amount of tension before the crucial doubles rubber – and this occasion was certainly no different. The situation staring back at us was simple: Clinch the doubles and Britain looked like heavy favourites to take home the trophy. Lose it and the Belgians would be in prime position.

Andy and Jamie Murray once again teamed up to take on Steve Darcis and David Goffin. Whilst the Murrays were favourites to come through, everyone inside the stadium knew that the Belgian pair would be no pushovers.

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The early stages of the match were indeed extremely tight, with the first nine games going with serve as both teams settled into a comfortable rhythm.

It would be Britain however who would strike the first blow, with Andy and Jamie clinching their first break point of the entire match to take down Goffin and grab the first set 6-4.

Early momentum in the second set went the way of Darcis and Goffin, with Jamie being broken in the fourth game to leave GB trailing 1-3. The Belgian pair would go on to hold serve and take the set 6-4 to level up the match at one set apiece. As expected, this wasn’t going to be easy!

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Onto the third set and the tension increased once more as Jamie was again broken in the early stages. But this time it was different: the British pair fought back beautifully, breaking twice in a row to go 4-2 up, before clinching the set 6-3.

The Murray brothers now had all the momentum and broke Belgium again early in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead. With Jamie serving at 5-2, a wayward return from Darcis sealed the victory for Britain and put us 2-1 ahead in the tie.

We were now just one win away from history – and so it was down to Andy Murray to beat David Goffin and win the Davis Cup for Great Britain!

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After a tight start, Murray broke Goffin to go 4-2 ahead and put the first set within touching distance. He would hold on from there with ease, eventually taking it 6-3.

The second set proved to be equally tight, with both players holding serve relatively comfortably. The crucial breakthrough arrived in the eleventh game, with Murray breaking Goffin to edge 6-5 ahead. He clinched the set in the next game with a stunning crosscourt winner.

Despite an early setback in the third, Murray instantly rallied to level up at 2-2, before breaking Goffin again a few games later to go 4-3 and then 5-3 ahead. Just one more game!

With Goffin serving to stay in the match, Andy really applied the pressure and a few points later found himself at match point.

The final point of the match is one that is sure to live long in the memory of any British fan, and not just because it was the moment Great Britain finally won the Davis Cup. This was a truly spectacular rally that summed up everything that’s so great about Andy Murray: his total determination to win, and his amazing natural ability to outfox his opponents with wonderful feel and intelligent shot making. This was Andy at his very best, and winning it with that amazing lob just somehow seemed so fitting. Even Andy himself couldn’t quite believe it.

We had done it – and you could really see what it meant to everyone involved. The crowd went wild!

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The Davis Cup is of course a team competition, and whilst Andy is certainly the star of the show, great credit should go to the whole team for what they have achieved over the last five years. Players including Jamie Murray, James Ward, Dan Evans, Dom Inglot and Colin Fleming have all played their part in getting us here. We also shouldn’t forget the support team, who have played an invaluable role in the success.

Special mention should of course go to Leon Smith. He is the man who has brought the team together and rescued us from the dire position we were in when he took over as Captain in 2010. He has brought passion, belief and determination to the team, whilst he has continually displayed a wonderful aptitude for great strategy and decision-making.

So what’s next for Great Britain?

A home tie against Japan in March sees GB start the defence of the title – but for now let’s just enjoy this magnificent victory and hope that it inspires many more youngsters to pick up a tennis racquet and start playing this wonderful game.

Congratulations to the whole team! It was an absolute privilege to witness this truly historic moment – and it will certainly live long in the memory of all British fans.

By Daniel Flower

DAVIS CUP FINAL TRAVEL UPDATE

Good evening Tennis fans. The LTA have today confirmed that the Final WILL go ahead as planned this weekend in Ghent.
Eurostar trains as of this afternoon (MONDAY) are running normally and their advice is to check in as normal for your train.
Obviously Brussels is on a high alert following the terrible events of last weekend, and this has had a knock-on effect over the rest of Belgium and into France.
For those who prefer, it is possible to travel from Lille Europe direct to Ghent without needing to go into the centre of Brussels, however the trains from Ghent back to Lille on Sunday are all fully booked.
Also, if you have a Eurostar ticket which allows onward travel to any other Belgian city, this would speed up your journey through Brussels as trains to Ghent leave from Brussels Midi.
We look forward to seeing many of you on Friday. It is certainly an event which we will remember for many years to come but hopefully for sporting reasons over and above anything else.

Davis Cup Semi-Final in Glasgow – Great Britain v Australia

It’s fair to say that Great Britain and Australia have enjoyed wildly differing levels of success in the Davis Cup over the last few decades. The recent tie at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena was GB’s first appearance in the semi-finals of the Davis Cup since 1981. By comparison, Australia had reached this stage of the competition fifteen times over the same time-span.

But things have certainly changed a great deal over the last few years, thanks largely to Andy Murray’s thrilling heroics and wonderful performances by Jamie Murray, James Ward, Dan Evans and Dom Inglot. Great credit should also go to the superb captaincy of Leon Smith, who has established a wonderful spirit and belief in the team.

So it was with great optimism and excitement that I headed to Glasgow for the tie against the Aussies. We were within touching distance of the final and I knew that the atmosphere was going to be electric, with thousands of British fans cheering on each and every point. The noise in the arena was incredible and undoubtedly helped the team a great deal.

The first match on the Friday saw Andy Murray taking on Thanasi Kokkinakis, a match in which Andy ultimately triumphed with ease, coming through 6-3 6-0 6-3. It was the perfect start for Great Britain.

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The second match of the tie saw a reversal of fortunes, with Bernard Tomic triumphing over Britain’s Dan Evans 6-3 7-6(2) 6-7(4) 6-4. Despite ultimately losing, Dan played some great tennis in this match and at several stages looked set to make a dramatic comeback.

As is so often the case in Davis Cup ties, Saturday’s doubles proved to be crucial in determining the outcome of the tie. The reality staring at us before the match was simple: Win the doubles and we would most likely be through to the final. Lose it and the Aussies would be the clear favourites.

I think it’s fair to say that this match did not disappoint! Andy and Jamie Murray once again produced some absolutely stunning tennis to take a nail biting match against Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-7(6) 6-4. We were just one win away from the final!

When we arrived in the arena on the Sunday it was once again down to Andy to finish the job. We all knew that his opponent Bernard Tomic is a world-class player, however the odds definitely looked stacked in our favour and there was a real sense of excitement and optimism amongst the crowd. Andy passed the test with flying colours, comfortably dispatching Tomic 7-5 6-3 6-2. We were through to the final!

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So… It’s now just over a month until the tie in Belgium and I honestly still can’t quite believe that we have come this far. The possibility of GB winning the Davis Cup was almost unthinkable just a few short years ago, however we now find ourselves heading into the final as the bookies favourites to come out as champions. Whilst it certainly won’t be easy, I really believe that we can do it.

To all the players and everyone involved with the team… Thank you and good luck in the final. Let’s do this!

Davis Cup – Great Britain v Australia by Rachel, a BATS member

If you are anything like me, many of you will have spent the days since that fantastic weekend in Glasgow in a dream-like state, re-watching television highlights that, although good, do not come close to the spine-tingling atmosphere of the Emirates Arena. Have we really reached the final? Was it only 5 years ago that we were staring at the bottom rung of the competition? Are we really only 3 rubbers from ending 79 years of hurt?

Much has been made of the importance of Andy Murray to the team. To have a player ranked in the top 3 is undeniably a huge advantage. Andy’s commitment to the competition, particularly over recent years, has been inspiring. Rarely does a tennis player have an opportunity to compete in a team, let alone alongside a sibling, and his gold medal at London 2012 must have further fuelled Andy’s clear desire to reach the pinnacle of team tennis. Andy was clearly in discomfort with his back during the semifinal but his determination was evident from the first serve to the last.

Let us not forget, however, that Davis Cup ties are not won in two rubbers. Dan Evans and James Ward have played important roles over the years and the development of Kyle Edmund makes the battle for the second singles place an interesting one. Doubles matches are often crucial and may indeed decide the final. We have been fortunate to have many doubles players make important contributions. The doubles rubber of the semifinal was outstanding and will live long in the memory. Andy and Jamie will surely be favourites to start in the final. Dom Inglot will be waiting in the wings though.

A successful team also needs an excellent leader and support staff to succeed and, whilst Andy may be the poster boy for this leadership, Leon Smith has quietly gone about his work as captain in an unassuming yet motivational fashion since being appointed in 2010. Smith’s record speaks for itself- 11-2 win/loss. He clearly has fostered a healthy team spirit that may not always have been present with other captains. Surely a bigger position in British tennis awaits him?

Great Britain will head to Belgium as favourites, on paper at least, but the Belgians will have something to say on the matter. They will be out to avenge their loss to Britain in their last final 111 years ago. Home advantage, too, cannot be overstated.

To Leon, Andy, Jamie Murray, James, Dan, Dom, Colin, Ross, Jonny, Jamie Baker and all those involved in the team over the past few years we say thank you and good luck. Bring on the Belgians!