Gabi Taylor became the first British woman to advance to the second round of 2014 Qualifying with a swift 6-1, 6-3 win over former world No. 29 Sofia Arvidsson.
The 16-year-old, who trains in Marbella, Spain, said she felt no pressure stepping on court against her Swedish opponent who broke into the top 30 in 2006 but now stands at 129 in the world.
“I just went out there and played my tennis,” Taylor told Wimbledon.com. ”Now I’m feeling shaky because I’m so happy, when I stepped on court I had no nerves whatsoever.”
The teenager rarely faltered during the 60-minute power play contest, producing a considered performance that belied her experience – prior to this tournament Taylor had only competed in three senior tour matches, having carved out her game on the WTA’s 50K challenger tour.
A blistering forehand winner down the line sealed her success on the second match point.
“I thought I was super aggressive today. Against this girl there were a few points where I kind of backed off and against those players you can’t afford to do that. I stuck to my tennis and I’m proud.”
Taylor, who hails from Southampton, may be on the small side – her height is recorded as 5ft 4 inches – but she doesn't see this as a disadvantage and cites Justine Henin as her idol.
“First of all she’s not particularly tall like me, so it gives me that boost because you can do so well even if you’re not that tall. I like the way she played, she’s an all-rounder, she can mix it up and do everything.”
For now Taylor is training at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton and her face lights up when prodded about her favourite surface.
“I quite like the grass,” she says.
“I think I’ve gained all my confidence now and I’m just going to go out tomorrow and play my tennis.”
Avon-born Emily Webley-Smith also progressed to the second round after her opponent Beatriz Garcia Vidagany retired. The Spaniard won the first set but appeared to be struggling with an injury in the second and eventually conceded the match 3-6, 6-4, 2-0.
However, the remaining British women fared less well.
Freya Christie lost to 17th-seeded Russian Alla Kudryavtseva 6-4, 6-2, Lisa Whybourn, in her first tournament clash back since shoulder surgery in October 2013, fell to No.6 seed Danka Kovinic 6-4, 6-1, Jade Windley bowed out to Carina Witthoeft 7-5, 6-1, and Katie Boulter eventually lost 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2 against Italy’s Alberta Brianti in a thrilling match that lasted two and half hours. Katy Dunne’s hopes of reaching the second round were also dashed by two time Wimbledon quarter finalist Austrian Tamira Paszek who won 6-4, 6-0.
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