With Andy Murray’s impending retirement, the future of the Davis Cup mired in controversy and the top British man Kyle Edmund sliding down the rankings it’s high time the GB Ladies took centre stage. That stage was in Bath earlier this month where, in front of a raucous home crowd, Team GB won ALL of their rubbers to set up an eminently winnable home tie against Kazakhstan in April. Huge credit goes to coach Anne Keothavong and her endless positivity at crucial moments. Here we take a look at the four ladies who played and what 2019 could hold for them.
Despite winning each of her rubbers last week (including a Herculean finish against Krunic) the 27 year-old looked quite laboured and one can’t shake the feeling that JoKo’s best results are behind her. Her “annus mirabilis” in 2017, featuring a Wimbledon SF and narrowly missing out to Kuznetsova on the last WTA Finals spot, was followed by a distinctly average 2018. Barring a final appearance in Nottingham, Jo failed to capitalise on her seeding – too many early exits saw her slide down the rankings nearly out of the Top 50. She has the game to beat most on her day but it’s the solid consistency of a top-tenner that she’ll be desperate to recapture.
The standout performer in Bath, Boulter’s star is most definitely in the ascendancy. A solid 2018 saw her break the top 100 taking a few decent scalps along the way. Boulter has a big game that can cause a lot of damage but is sometimes prone to serious lapses in concentration that see her sacrifice sets from dominating positions. If she can cut these out there’s no reason she can’t finish the season in the top 50 and maybe pinch a title along the way.
Dart has started 2019 in fine fashion, storming through qualifiers to make the 2nd round in Brisbane and getting into the main draw of the Australian Open, where she was unfortunate to run into peak Sharapova and the ensuing double bagel. Still, the signs are good for her to become a mainstay in the top 100 if she maintains her current form, and her aggressive style is very watchable. She’ll be 23 this summer though and will need to make a decent run at a WTA event for us to revise this prediction upward.
The youngest player in the team at just 19, it will be interesting to see if Katie can make the jump up from ITF, where she is 6/6 in finals, to WTA level in the next year or two. She definitely has the game and has pinched sets off much higher ranked opponents as well as beating Begu to make the 2nd round at Wimbledon. Unfortunately Katie has been plagued with several injuries that have hindered her development. This is particularly worrying in someone so young and we’re all rooting for her to string a long run of fitness and form together so we can see how far her obvious talent takes her. Time is on her side and 2019 should see her add a couple more ITF titles to her collection and maybe a main tour upset or two thrown in. If she can finish the season close to the Top 100 it will give her a good platform to make that leap.
The confidence and momentum gained from a feel-good Fed Cup tie shouldn’t be underestimated. If further success is had against Kazakhstan at the Copper Box Arena in April, that winning feeling could well flow into individual pursuits too. Let’s hope so – it’s happy days for British women’s tennis right now and it only looks set to get better from here.