Brighton ace Sonay Kartal was pleased to maintain focus in an opening round match at the Surbiton Trophy as she battled past fellow Brit Lily Miyazaki after a rain delay, writes Oli Dickson Jefford in Surbiton.
Kartal, who benefits from the LTA’s NTC Access programme for players ranked 100-200 in singles and 31-100 in doubles, providing cost-free access to courts on all three surfaces, coaching, trainers and the LTA’s tournament bonus scheme, beat Miyazaki 6-3 6-4 in her opening match in a high-quality match at the ITF W100 event.
“I’ve been training a lot with Lily the past week, so we both knew how the other played,” said Katrtal, who rallied from a break down in both sets and having to deal with an hour-long rain delay at 4-4 in the second set.
“She doesn’t give you much rhythm, so to play her on grass is definitely tricky, but I just tried to keep my game how I’ve been playing and keep a lead during the match,” said Kartal.
“Coming off at 4-4 in the second set with a rain delay is tough. The biggest thing coming back from that was just to keep my focus and not get more complacent.
“It depends on how the match is going for you. For me, I was in groove, I had won quite a few games, it wasn’t something I wanted to do, coming off, but I had no choice.
“I just tried to keep myself off the court and focus, and then as soon as you step back on court you just go again.”
After struggling with injuries in 2021, the Sussex star has raced up the rankings this season following victories at four ITF W25 events in Britain this year, with those tournaments part of the LTA’s enhanced Performance Competitions Calendar that has ensured there are over 40 weeks of either international ranking point or prize money earning opportunities in Great Britain each year.
And as she approaches her first grass court season in three years, the world No. 284 is hoping to continue her recent momentum this summer.
“This is my first full grass court season. I think it’s the first time I’ve played on grass in three years, since I was in the juniors,” she added.
“I’m going into the grass court season confident because I’ve got a lot of matches under my belt. I’m going to hopefully try and use that for the rest of the week.
“I’d say grass is a little bit more challenging because of the amount of time you get on it throughout the year. Hard courts, clay courts, you can spend months on it throughout the year. I’m happy with how I played in my first match and I’m going to try and use that for the rest of the week. I just want to take each match as it comes.”
For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website.