Harriet Dart admits: I surprised myself at Wimbledon qualifiers
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West Hampstead’s Harriet Dart admits she surprised herself with her performances after reaching the final round of the Wimbledon qualifiers and narrowly missing out on a place in the main draw.
The 19-year-old, who attended Sarum Hall primary school in Swiss Cottage and then the Royal School in Hampstead, is ranked 446th in the world.
But, after being given a wildcard into the qualifiers at the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton, she beat the No169 Fangzhou Liu and the No121 Risa Ozaki last week.
That set up a final qualifier against the No213, Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia – and a marathon three-set thriller ensued, with Dart eventually losing 6-2, 5-7, 11-13 after just over three hours.
Alexandrova went on to beat the world No25 Ana Ivanovic in straight sets in the first round at Wimbledon on Monday, and Dart told Ham&High Sport: “I definitely think I surprised myself a little bit with the level I was playing.
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“I’ve been working at this all my life, it’s not an overnight thing, but to then put it all together was really good. I’ve made the most of my wildcard and I think I thrive in that arena.
“It was the biggest match of my career to date. It was great to have the British crowd and there were a lot of people watching and supporting, so that was really nice.
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“It’s the longest match I’ve played in terms of the scoreline. I’ve never actually played out a full third set before – usually in tournaments you play a tie-break in the third set – but I’d prepared well and I have a good team around me.
“I was just focusing on each point, focusing on the little things and trying not to get too far ahead of myself. That was the main thing.
“I take a lot of confidence from it, and that’s very important. In the big matches and in the big points, the belief that you have in yourself and the matches that you have behind you, that confidence is a massive part of it.
“It shows that my level’s there. It’s just about consistently producing it and trying to keep my momentum going.
“I’m planning to go and play in a few $25k and $50k challenger tournaments in Canada and the US in a few weeks’ time.”