By Oli Dickson Jefford at Wimbledon
Alicia Barnett wants to have fun on her Wimbledon debut - and an opening win in the mixed doubles was the perfect way to do just that.
Barnett, who benefits from the LTA Top 25 programme which allows access to the NTC courts and facilities for the top 25 ranked British male and female players on ATP and WTA Tour, received a wildcard into the event alongside fellow Brit Jonny O’Mara.
And the two could not have got off to a better start, beating fifth seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Giuliana Olmos 6-2 3-6 7-5 in a highly entertaining battle on Court 5.
Barnett has comparatively little experience playing mixed doubles, though the 28-year-old from Gloucestershire revelled in a lively match and atmosphere at her home slam.
“It was just a lot of fun. I’ve never played mixed doubles really. I’ve played British tour level, so it was all very new to me, and Jonny was just brilliant,” she said.
“He had so much energy, he was just cracking jokes in between points and I just felt really loose, and just went for it. We had a really good crowd, and it was really good craic.
“Obviously in ladies’ you’re chasing rankings, where in mixed there’s no rankings so it can be a little more fun, you can get on court longer and it’s just another match at a Grand Slam, so it’s just a lot of energy.
“The crowd seems to love having men and women on the same court as it’s very different game styles. There’s just some really fun points out there.
“I think it’s best just to go in and have a swing. We literally hadn’t even discussed who was serving first - he even confirmed which side we were playing five minutes before the match so I think both of us responded really well going in loose and having a swing, just having a bit of fun.”
The match was the perfect tonic for Barnett, whose ladies’ doubles campaign had come to a close earlier in the day.
She and Olivia Nicholls received a main draw wildcard and had won their first round match, though were beaten 3-6 6-4 7-6 [10-7] by 15th seeds Nadiia Kichenok and Raluca Olaru in an almost three-hour contest.
Barnett added: “That match was really tough. Liv and I are starting to get used to playing at this level and it’s our first Grand Slam so we went in just trying to focus on us and going after our plays, and having good intent.
“It was probably one of the best matches we’d played. Obviously it’s heart-breaking losing a tie-break, but we’re at Wimbledon. We could have lost in the first round and it’s just great that we were out there and on court for three hours with all our friends and family.
“We’re just going to go away and learn a lot from it.”
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