Katy is hitting new heights

Hemel Hempstead's Katy Dunne, in action on the fast grass courts of Birmingham earlier this month, is to play at Wimbledon this year. (Picture by Getty Images for the LTA).
Hemel Hempstead's Katy Dunne, in action on the fast grass courts of Birmingham earlier this month, is to play at Wimbledon this year. (Picture by Getty Images for the LTA).

Rising tennis star Katy Dunne has been hitting new heights on the fast grass courts of

Birmingham

Dunne followed up what was the best win of her career on Saturday with another quality performance on Sunday to defeat fellow Brit Jodie Burrage and advance to the final round of qualifying at the Nature Valley Classic tournament in Birmingham.

The 23-year-old, from Flaunden, found herself facing two set points in the opening set of the match but held her nerve with some assured and aggressive hitting at the key moments. At 40-0 down in the sixth game of the second set, Dunne fought back to gain a crucial break of her opponent’s serve, before going on to claim the match 7-6, 6-3.

Dunne has come a long way since she first trained at Halton Tennis Centre as a five-year-old. The world number 222 is now looking increasingly at home playing on the show courts at international-level tournaments.

Speaking after Sunday’s match, Dunne said: “I’m pretty happy! I didn’t expect it at the start of the week.

“It was awesome out there, with two Brits the crowd was pretty good. I’m not really used to being in a stadium court so hopefully I keep enjoying it.

“I fought really hard when I was down 5-3 in the first set, and particularly facing the set points; I just went for it.

“I think I needed to do that a bit more during the match, it was a bit too in and out with how aggressive I was being. I allowed Jodie to make me run more than I was making her run.”

Dunne’s progress in Birmingham had looked unlikely on Saturday, after she lost the opening set of her campaign against Russia’s world number 85 Natalia Vikhlyantseva without winning a game.

But a remarkable turnaround followed as Dunne grew in confidence to win 0-6, 6-2, 6-2 and claim her first win against a top-100 player.

Dunne, who now trains at Gosling Tennis Centre in Welwyn Garden City, Herts, with coach Richard Hawkes, now faces France’s Oceane Dodin in the final round of qualifying this week.

The prize on offer is a place in the 32-player main singles draw alongside a host of the sport’s biggest names, including reigning Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza, world number 5 Elina Svitolina, world number 7 Karolina Pliskova, British number oneJohanna Konta and two-time Wimbledon winner and defending Birmingham champion Petra Kvitova.

Katy added: “I think this week I have no pressure – she [Dodin] is a very high-quality player. I am going to try to enjoy it as much as possible and believe in myself.”

Organised by the Lawn Tennis Association, the Nature Valley Classic is part of a series of pre-Wimbledon international grass court tournaments across the country.

To keep track of Dunne’s progress, visit website www.lta.org.uk/major-events.