UK Pro League back with a bang ahead of Week 5 showpiece in Aldershot

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Hotshot Appleton, 21, has set the early pace in the women's competition alongside Anton Matusevich in the men's (Credit: Ian Hall)
Hotshot Appleton, 21, has set the early pace in the women's competition alongside Anton Matusevich in the men's (Credit: Ian Hall)

After a two-month break, the 2021 UK Pro League is back with a bang this week, with some of Britain's brightest talent locking horns at the Aldershot Tennis Centre, writes Oli Dickson Jefford.

Set up in 2020 and first played to enable players to get back into competition after the initial national lockdown, it is the only domestic league for UK players, with the 2021 instalment beginning back in March.

And with over half a million pounds of prize money up for grabs across the season, you will not miss a thing with all the thrills and spills broadcast live on BT Sport.

So far Anton Matusevich and Emily Appleton are leading the way, topping the men's and women's rankings, respectively.

Appleton sits top of the women's rankings with 69 points, 16 ahead of second placed Eliz Maloney, whilst Matusevich sits 11 points ahead of Dan Cox in the men's rankings.

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Appleton has won three of the four weeks and was runner-up as well, meaning she is the favourite to triumph once again, though Matusevich will not be in action this week.

The men's event will be led by Josh Paris, who currently sits in third place, with Julian Cash, Alexis Canter and Charles Broom the highest ranked players in action.

There is also a wildcard for Lui Maxted who recently played in junior Wimbledon, and event founder Jamie Delgado revealed he was impressed when the 18-year-old played in week three. 

"Lui Maxted stood out. When he played, he played well, it was good to see him compete. It's great to see the younger players do well," said Delgado.

Appleton's main rival will likely be Maloney once again. The two have met in three finals this year, with Maloney the only person to stop Appleton from winning a week. 

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Other notable names in the field include Freya Christie, the highest-ranked woman in the field, Sonay Kartal and bright young prospects, Grace Piper and Jasmine Conway. 

Delgado believes that Appleton's consistency and resilience is key to her success so far and will make her hard to beat this week.

"I think that consistency is always an impressive thing. So many players can play good one-off matches but the people who will do well in this league are the people who will back up that level day-to-day," he said.

"They're all good players and they can all play good tennis but when you're getting tired, when the body starts to go, can you maintain it? Emily has obviously done it the best out of everyone.

"You never know how people react to getting lots of matches and potentially losing a match. A lot depends on how much you can bounce back from that as well so I think it's a real test of your ability and your focus during the week."

With a prize fund of around £500k and Broadcast live on BT Sport, the UK Pro League is the only place where the British player group come together to compete across the full year.

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