Harriet Dart is determined to maintain her momentum after comeback from injury
- Credit: Archant
West Hampstead’s Harriet Dart has fought her way back from injury to enjoy the best week of her career – and she is now aiming to take the momentum into the grass-court season on home turf.
The 19-year-old – who won the Under-18 title at the Cumberland club on Alvanley Gardens at the age of 10 and became a full-time tennis player at the age of 13 – was ranked 345th in the world in the women’s singles list last August, and 318th in the doubles in September.
However, her progress was halted by a heel injury called plantar fasciitis, which ruled her out from October to February this year.
Nonetheless, Dart – who attended Sarum Hall primary school in Swiss Cottage and then the Royal School in Hampstead – won the doubles title at the $25,000 Challenger in Goyang, South Korea, alongside Freya Christie last week while also reaching the final of the singles event.
Now back in England after four weeks on tour, she is looking forward to competing on her favourite surface – grass – and her time in the treatment room has only added to her motivation and resolve.
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“I’d wake up and I wouldn’t be able to walk out of bed – it got that bad,” she told Ham&High Sport. “I was mostly at home doing rehab, thinking it would be better and then trying and then stopping.
“It was not a good time, and coming back from injury hasn’t been easy. I struggled a little bit – but I’ve just had the best week of my career to date in Korea.
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“[Being injured] definitely makes you more hungry to get back on court and to compete – and when you’re competing you want it more and you want to get that success.
“You’ve been working really hard for it and haven’t been able to play a match, and not being able to play a match really motivates you to get back to where you want to be.
“People always think that success happens overnight whereas, really, I’ve been training almost every day for most of my life.
“It didn’t just happen, I’ve been working really hard all this year and trying to improve my game, because I love playing. I was just pleased I could show some results from that last week.
“I got lots of matches under my belt so that was the main thing coming into the grass-court season. I’m just excited to get the opportunity to compete on home turf and see if I can make the most of some opportunities that I might get.
“I feel in the best place with my game. I’m just hoping to continue that kind of form for the rest of the year.”
Dart is now preparing to play in the $50,000 tournament at Surbiton. She is due to take part in the qualifiers on Sunday but will find out on Friday if she will be given a place in the main draw, which begins on Tuesday. She is used to such uncertainty.
“It’s a bit of a waiting game to see what wildcards are available,” said Dart, who is supported by Adidas and Babolat racket equipment. “It’s pretty much, no kidding, the day before [when you find out]. It’s not great preparation but that’s how it is.
“There are two Challenger events – the $50,000 at Surbiton next week and a $50,000 at Ilkley the following week – and the same weeks as those two are the Nottingham WTA and Birmingham events. Then the following week is Eastbourne WTA and then it’s Wimbledon.”
For now, Dart is only sure she will be playing at Surbiton, and she added: “Of course you want to win the tournaments, but there are 32 people in the draw so 31 people are not happy and one person wins the tournament.
“You’re playing against an incredibly tough field. The $50k at Surbiton has four top-100 players in it so it’s not easy, so I’ll just do my best and that’s all I can ask of myself.”