Rising British star Sonay Kartal enjoyed a winning return to The Shrewsbury Club to book a place in the second round of the Budgen Motors W100 tournament.
Kartal was one of three British winners as singles matches in the main draw got under way yesterday, with Lily Miyazaki and Freya Christie also progressing.
Kartal, 21, was crowned UK Pro League women’s champion when she last visited Shrewsbury last November.
Pleased to be back in Shropshire, she advanced to the last 16 of the ITF World Tennis Tour event by beating Katarzyna Kawa from Poland, a player just above her in the world rankings, 6-3, 0-6, 6-1.
Kartal, currently seventh in the British women’s rankings, said: “I had never played her before. She really came alive in the second set and I struggled to find a game plan that suited her.
“I just thought third set I’m trying to go out and be aggressive and try and play my game.
“I love this club and I love the atmosphere, so I think that plays into my favour. I think when you love the place that it really helps.”
Ranked just inside the world’s top 1,000 at the time of last November’s title triumph in Shrewsbury, Kartal has since impressively climbed to currently just outside the top 200, having recently been a career-high 199.
She added: “I’ve surpassed all my goals that I’ve set for myself this year, so I’m just trying to end the year as high as I can.”
Kartal will now face Ana Konjuh in tomorrow’s second round after the Croatian’s 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 victory over third seed Dalma Galfi, the Hungarian player currently ranked 85 in the world.
Assessing the strength of this week’s tournament – the biggest indoor women’s tennis event staged in the UK since the 1990s – Kartal said: “The level’s really strong and I’m just going to try and do what I did today, try and play my game and take each match as it comes.”
Miyazaki, one of four British players to receive a main draw wild card, beat qualifier Gabriela Andrea Knutson from the Czech Republic 6-4, 7-5.
Miyazaki, the British number eight who recently won a W60 event in Glasgow, will now meet the winner of today’s first round match between Tatjana Maria, a Wimbledon singles semi-finalist earlier this year, and British wild card Marni Banks.
Christie is also through to the second round after beating 17-year-old Ella McDonald. After both Brits emerged from qualifying, Christie moved into the last 16 with a 7-6, 6-4 victory.
Christie will now face top seed Anhelina Kalinina after the Ukrainian, currently in the world’s top 50, beat French player Elsa Jacquemot 6-4, 6-1.
Emily Appleton, the other British player in first round action yesterday, and the winner of a W25 tournament in Loughborough last week, lost 6-2, 6-1 against Eva Lys from Germany, a player ranked more than 650 places higher.
Two more seeded players made an early exit as Czech Republic qualifier Barbora Palicova beat Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova, the fourth seed, 6-1, 6-4, while Belgian Yanina Wickmayer progressed with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over sixth seed Simona Waltert from Switzerland.
Jodie Burrage and Katie Boulter, the two highest ranked British players competing in Shrewsbury this week, are both in first round action today.
Burrage faces Romanian Elena Gabriela Ruse, the fifth seed and currently ranked just inside the world’s top 100, with Boulter playing Nefisa Berberovic from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As well as Banks facing German star Maria, the second seed, there’s more British interest today as Maia Lumsden faces Chinese Taipei player Joanna Garland, while there’s an all-British clash between Eliz Maloney and Eden Silva.
Today’s action – singles and doubles matches will both be played – starts from 10am, with tickets, which include a 40-page tournament programme, priced £12.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.worldtennistourshrewsbury.com/tickets-and-events/#tickets