Wimbledon 2022: Brit Kartal feels like she belongs on tennis big stage

The idea of playing in Wimbledon’s main draw would have seemed fanciful for Sussex’s Sonay Kartal even six months ago but after making her debut, the 20-year-old is adamant she belongs.

While Kartal did not come out on top in her first senior appearance at the All England Club, she put up a real fight in a 6-4 3-6 6-1 defeat to Netherlands’ Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove.

Kartal’s Wimbledon debut comes after a remarkable run of success in 2022, after she won four ITF events so far this season to work her way into the world’s top 300 and earn a wildcard at Wimbledon.

And while the next objective is a strong showing in the women’s doubles at SW19, where she will team up with Nell Miller, Kartal believes she has shown enough to feel like she belongs on this stage.

“I have loved the experience, and I have taken away lots to learn from that match,” said Kartal, who benefits from the LTA’s NTC Access programme, providing cost-free access to courts coaching, trainers and the LTA’s tournament bonus scheme,

“Six months ago this wasn’t even a realistic goal for me. Things have kind of happened pretty fast, and I’m just going to use this as momentum and try and carry on and hopefully be at the U.S. Open in qualies.

“I believe my level is at Grand Slam level, so it’s just fine-tuning little things. The grass has brought up a lot of things in my own game I’m working on.”

Kartal’s preparations were not helped by a late change of opponent, Pattinama Kerkhove stepping in after Danka Kovinic was forced to withdraw at the last minute.

The Dutchwoman has plenty of experience on grass and it showed as she quickly settled into her rhythm, with Kartal having to cope with the nerves of a first main draw appearance, having previously played in the juniors here.

She added: “There were a lot of nerves on the court. I tried my best to just kind of put them to the side and just kind of try and find the tennis.

“I had a lot of fun. I knew a lot of people in the crowd. Despite the outcome, I still loved every minute on the court.

“I had a lot of people from my club down here. My parents came here, my sister came here. I had a lot of home support.”

For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA Website

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