Tennis: Harriet Dart looking forward to Wimbledon main draw debut despite defeat in qualifying
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West Hampstead native has a wildcard for women’s doubles, but lost in singles qualifying
West Hampstead’s Harriet Dart has revealed she cannot wait to make her senior debut at Wimbledon next week — despite seeing her hopes of qualifying for the women’s singles draw dashed at the competition’s qualifying event in Roehampton.
Dart was beaten 4-6, 6-3, 9-7 by Cagla Buyukakcay in a three-set thriller and squandered two match points in the final set to eventually lose out to her Turkish opponent.
Despite taking the first set in comfortable fashion before rain stopped play yesterday, the 20-year-old struggled to settle into her rhythm when she stepped back on court at the Bank of England Sports Club.
The former Royal School pupil will now turn her attention to perfecting her double act with close friend and fellow Brit Katy Dunne.
“I’m super excited to be playing in my first Wimbledon main draw,” the British number seven said.
“We were joking the other day that we’d play a big seed so we can play on a big court, but we’ll see. We’re there to win and do the best we can.
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“We play really well together and we’ve had some really good results over the last couple of weeks — at Surbiton and Manchester — so we’ll just take it as it comes and we’ll take in all the experience and use it to try and build on for the next few years, as it’s out first time playing seniors.
“It’s nice to share it with someone I’m so close with. We don’t train together, but we see each other often, our schedules haven’t really met that much, but it has this year, so we’ve seen each other more.”
The event at the Bank of England Sports Club is the preliminary tournament to the main championships and runs from June 26-29 the week before the prestigious All England Club event.
This year saw Dart compete for one of the 12 qualifying places on offer in the women’s knock-out competition out of a field of 96 players, all of whom have neither a high enough ranking nor a wildcard to automatically qualify for a spot at the All England Club.
The young Brit came agonizingly close last year, losing 13-11 in the final qualifying round against Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova in a clash that lasted just over three hours.
And despite seeing her Wimbledon journey cut short, the world number 277 insists there are still many positives to take this time round.
“To be honest I didn’t have that much expectation, I guess you naturally put pressure on yourself to try and do well and I guess it’s a home ground, it’s a Grand Slam,” she said.
“But I was just trying to focus on playing a good match and putting in a good performance out there, which I think I did.
“I was pleased with that, but it was unfortunate to lose the third set, but there are lots of things to build on.”
Having suffered a hip injury last September and catching a bout of pneumonia in January, Dart, who only returned to action in March after six months out, says she’s fortunate to have made an appearance at Roehampton this year.
“I’m just very lucky to be playing this year if I’m honest,” she said. “My goal for the rest of the year is just to be healthy and keep injury-free and trying to remain positive.”
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