Exclusive: Fed Cup stars could inspire rise of British women’s tennis, says Jeremy Bates
Jeremy Bates believes the success of Great Britain’s Federations Cup team can help to inspire girls of all ages to take up the game, as he backed his protege Katie Boulter to take her career to the next level in 2019.
Former British No.1 Bates, who has been coaching Boulter during her rise to a career-high world ranking of 82 this week, believes one of the heroes of Britain’s Federations Cup wins in Bath earlier this month is making good progress in her efforts to make a breakthrough at the elite level.
Yet he concedes 22-year-old Boulter will face a big challenge to convert her potential into success if she makes the leap into the world’s top 50.
“The next step is crucial for Katie and it’s probably the most difficult leap of all,” Bates told Tennis365 in an exclusive interview.
“It is tough to get into the bigger tournaments when you are ranked where Katie is at the moment and it means you have to take your chances when you are playing in those bigger events.
“Picking up the points you need to go from the 80s to the top 30s is difficult and it is only when you get into the bigger events on a regular basis that you have the chance to collect more ranking points.
“Obviously the standard moves up in the top tier tournaments and you raise your levels to compete, but I feel Katie is moving in that direction and we have seen some wonderful improvement from her in the last few months.
“The experience she had in Bath and winning so many Federations Cup matches in front of a big British crowd was fantastic, with her performances under a lot of pressure showing that she has a great temperament to play at that level.
“Now she has to use that experience to kick on and be inspired to take her game forward. There are things we are working on with her, but she has a very solid all-round game and I am excited by why she can achieve this year.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying working with her. She has a wonderful attitude on and off the court, a real desire to improve and you need that and so much more to reach the top of the game.”
Boulter recorded Grand Slams wins at this year’s Australian Open and beat Veronica Cepede Royg in the first round of Wimbledon last year, before losing out to Naomi Osaka in the second round.
Now she will aim to kick on after her thrilling victories against Sloevnia’s Kaja Juvan, Greece’s Valentini Grammatikopoulou, Hungary’s Dalma Galfi and Serbia’s Ivana Jorovic helped to secure thrilling victory Federations Cup wins in front of an ecstatic crowd home crowd.
“We have waited a long time to have a Fed Cup match on home soil and it lived up to all expectations,” added Bates. “The crowds flocked to Bath and the atmosphere they created was fantastic.
“The atmosphere we had for Davis Cup matches was transported to the Fed Cup and the players responded by turning in some great performances.
“Johanna Konta and Katie played some great tennis and the standard was very high throughout the event, so hopefully it is the first of many Fed Cup matches on home soil.
“Events like this are fantastic for our sport and for girls of all ages, who look at the atmosphere and the excitement it created and want to play tennis on the back of it. We saw that with Andy Murray when he had success and hopefully the rise of the women’s game in Britain will have a similar impact.”
For her part, Boulter admitted the experience of playing in front of a home crowd and representing her country was an experience to remember.
“I came in to this week not knowing what to expect,” said Boulter, who had only played two Fed Cup doubles matches prior to her four singles victories in Bath.
“To come out with four wins is probably better than I imagined.
“I wasn’t going into this week thinking ‘I’m going to win four matches’. I was just putting my heart on the line and doing the best that I can and then seeing what comes of it.
“Playing for your country is a little different to just playing for yourself. You’re trying to make people proud. It is very special and hopefully I can replicate that many more times.”
BT Sport is the home of women’s tennis, bringing you action from across the world on the WTA Tour and Fed Cup. For more information visit bt.com/sport.
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