Quarter final action kicks off at the UK Pro League Finals Week today after a high stakes final day of the group stage saw top seeds Lily Miyazaki and Jay Clarke pick up huge wins at The Shrewsbury Club.
Miyazaki, at a career-high ranking of 215, was up against a big-hitting power player in Newcastle’s Emma Wilson. The 25-year-old from Surrey got off to the quicker start and never looked back, with her ability to take the ball early owning the big points and helping her wrap up a 6-2, 6-3 victory.
“With Emma you don’t really know what you’re going to get,” Miyazaki reflected post-match. “She can play unbelievably well and sometimes you have to ride the storm a bit. But I’m happy with the way I managed to do the basics pretty well, and then from there, play my tennis.”
After edging Freya Christie in a ten point match tiebreak on Tuesday, Miyazaki knew that she had to win in straight sets to guarantee her spot in the last eight without fuss.
“I was maybe a little bit [nervous] at the beginning today,” said Miyazaki, who is present at Finals Week as a wild card after spending large chunks of the year competing on the ITF circuit.
“But towards the end of the match against Freya I was just starting to get used to the balls and the court conditions. Once I settled down I was fine – I just tried to concentrate on doing what I needed to do, and let the rest take care of itself.”
Miyazaki, who has four ITF singles titles to her name, is on the cusp of making the qualifying draw at the Australian Open in January. It has been a long-time goal of the Japanese-born competitor.
“This year I’ve managed to play lots of tournaments and get so many matches under my belt, and that’s helped me understand how to manage different situations,” Miyazaki said of her 2021 rise. “This was basically my first full year on the tour, because of the COVID situation, and Grand Slams have always been my goal.”
On the men’s side, it was an even more nerve-wracking day for 2018 Wimbledon mixed doubles semi-finalist Jay Clarke. The 23-year-old’s opponent, UK Pro League Week 1 winner Josh Paris, knew he had to win in straight sets to keep Clarke out of the quarter finals, and was one set away from doing so before Clarke launched a 3-6, 6-3, 10-5 comeback.
“I think Josh played some of his best tennis there,” Clarke analysed. “But I had a lot of chances and I was just thinking, ‘keep going, try to land the ball a bit deeper’. The pressure that I was putting on maybe made him go for more – I was sending messages and it paid off.”
The quarter finals get under way today (noon) as Emily Appleton battles Eden Silva.
Giles Hussey then squares off with Billy Harris, Freya Christie faces Katie Stresnakova and Julian Cash takes on Anton Matusevich.