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Dart targets the big time after gaining ITF ranking

PUBLISHED: 16:30 21 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:56 07 September 2010

BUDDING STARS . . . The Under-14s girls' squad were in action on Sunday. Pictured (left to right) Phoebe Dart, Olivia Cox, Harriet Dart, Naomi Labrom and Nanam Yamaguchi

BUDDING STARS . . . The Under-14s girls' squad were in action on Sunday. Pictured (left to right) Phoebe Dart, Olivia Cox, Harriet Dart, Naomi Labrom and Nanam Yamaguchi

CUMBERLAND S Harriet Dart has belied a lengthy absence due to injury to clinch her first ITF ranking points in Nottingham. Dart was given a shot at the qualifiers when her wild card to the Nottingham Grade Four ITF competition was upgraded to a wild card

CUMBERLAND'S Harriet Dart has belied a lengthy absence due to injury to clinch her first ITF ranking points in Nottingham.

Dart was given a shot at the qualifiers when her wild card to the Nottingham Grade Four ITF competition was upgraded to a wild card for the main draw after outstanding performances in Under-14 Grade One events in Italy and then in Portugal where she was beaten by the top seed in the quarter finals.

The 13-year-old needed to win through the first two rounds in Nottingham in April to secure an ITF ranking and achieved her target with two determined victories.

First she beat Slovakian world No. 3 Nina Bubelova 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 in a game lasting three hours.

Her next opponent was Lithuanian Lina Padegimate, seeded three and ranked 304 in the world ITF juniors.

Dart won the epic encounter that lasted four hours and 20 minutes, with each game going to a tie break, showing great determination in the second set when coming back from 4-1 down to reach the last 16.

She narrowly lost in the next round to Holland's Esmurzaeva Alzate in another marathon struggle, 7-5, 2-6, 5-7, coming back from 5-1 down in the third set.

The resulting ITF ranking not only enhances Dart's status but increases her chances of gaining entry to top tier competitions.

"The ITF ranking means she will now be able to get into ITF ranked events," said her mother Susie Dart, the current Middlesex Ladies county captain and a former Cumberland club captain.

"But we don't plan more than six weeks ahead as she is still developing the physical side of her game," she continued.

"Her injury last year meant she was just playing 45 minutes a day and it affected her confidence [when she returned] as she was lacking match practice. She is absolutely delighted with her form since returning to the courts."

On Sunday Dart, who is coached by John Black and trains at Bisham Abbey with WIN tennis, was part of Cumberland's Under-14 girls team that lost the Aegeon National League match 4-2 to Bromley Tennis Club.


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