The final outcome of the Battle of the Brits.. is that the Brits are ready
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When the word came down that Indian Wells had been cancelled on the strength of one confirmed case of COVID-19, there was disbelief in some quarters, which rapidly turned to inevitability as the scale of the global pandemic became clear, and issues far larger that thumping a fluffy tennis ball over a net took over everyone’s lives.
As restrictions were lifted, all around the world domestic competitions, tournaments and exhibitions started to spring up, and book-ending that first period of the LTA’s own return to elite competition was the Battle of the Brits. Starting with the men-only competition, and finishing with a team event, British tennis fans could, for a small time, throw themselves into the sport they had been denied for four months.
Fast forward to August, and the tours are slowly awakening as best they can, and certainly the top British players can say they have been given every opportunity to get match-time and to experience something like competition albeit with raucous encouragement,
More than that, though – some of Britain’s up-coming players have not only had the opportunity to play throughout the restart, but to be around more established players and coaches has been invaluable.
Talk to any of the lower tier players about the experience, and they beam at the banter, smile at the support of their coaches and they feel just as ready and motivated to strike on as soon as their respective tours start.
Players like Ryan Peniston and Emma Raducanu have punched well above their weight and we would hope to see some significant rankings rise. The coaches have often told the lower-ranked players how great it is for them to face the more established players to see where they game is at, and what they need to do to get to that level.
Talk to the more established players and this was a chance to shake off the rust and get some match-tightness, where no amount of practice will prepare you for that.
Players like Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund, Heather Watson, Andy Murray and Jo Konta plan to travel to the US and trust in the protocols that the tours are promising. The LTA will run more British Tour events through August to the beginning of September while the lower tiers take their time to restart, ensuring lower-tier players are able to earn money until that time.
But make no mistake, these seven days bring to a close over a month of competition – wherever the players go from here – ATP, WTA, ITF, LTA British Tour… the Brits are ready.