Naomi Broady is back fighting fit and believes the UK Pro Series is blazing a trail for the rest of the British tennis calendar to follow.
The Stockport star is currently ramping up preparations for next week’s Classic Week at St. George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club, having been one of 12 leading British men and women to qualify for the inaugural event in Weybridge.
That was the reward after five thrilling weeks of round robin action, where players compete in a unique, daily group format before a winner of each week is crowned and secures qualification to Classic Week.
Broady was struggling with an ankle injury before lockdown but believes the tournament has got her back in tip-top condition and revolutionised the way tennis is played.
“I’m loving being back - I’ve been out for so long injured, the only way I can get back any form is by playing matches and having that intensity that you can’t recreate in practice,” Broady, 30, said.
“I absolutely love the format here - it’s fantastic, and to be able to play every single day whether you win or lose is so important to be able to improve.
“For my idea about how we can develop tennis in this country, it’s just the perfect format.
“I absolutely think there should be more tournaments in this format - it’s a win-win, you’re practicing in pressure situations, you’re learning to compete in so many matches and you can then try and correct what you didn’t do well.
“My coach is watching the live stream up in Manchester, and he’ll text or call me after each match and tell me what I did well and what he wants me to improve on.
“I believe that’s how you improve at tennis - by playing at this high level of match intensity, and being able to do that every single day is just fantastic.”
24 of the country’s leading players - 12 men, 12 women - will be split into two pools of six at St. George’s next week where they will duel it out ahead of finals weekend on August 15th and 16th.
Broady is currently ranked No.8 in the country and will be joined by a star-studded array of fellow British talent, with Harriet Dart, Jodie Burrage and Eden Silva in the women’s draw and James Ward, Anton Matusevich, Arthur Fery and Liam Broady - Naomi’s brother - in the men’s.
The unique format was the brainchild of Andy Murray’s coach Jamie Delgado, who is a member of the LTA Professional Tennis Advisory Group and has managed player liaison across the six weeks.
Broady can’t wait to get going and knows just how special it would be to etch her name on the competition’s maiden female trophy.
“The ambition’s definitely to go and win it!” she added.
“I’d love to go and win next week, but I'm just so happy to have been able to do well over the last few weeks.
“It would make it even more special to win it because it’s the first year of it - but hopefully there’ll be many more years to come after this one as well!”
12 of the UK’s top women and 12 of the leading men have qualified through the UK Pro Series for the UK Pro Classic in Weybridge this week. With a prize fund of over $500,000, the return to competition in the UK’s premier league of tennis has given over 60 of Britain’s top professionals an intense reintroduction to tournament play.
The final 3 days of the UK Pro Series will have national free to air coverage on Free Sports, while the full week of action will be available on the EuroSport Player.