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Lexus Ilkley Trophy

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Lexus Ilkley Trophy 2024: Next generation of British stars progress in women’s singles

• 3 MINUTE READ

It was a brilliant day for Britain’s young women’s players at the Lexus Ilkley Trophy as Ella McDonald, Marni Banks and Ranah Stoiber all clinched their first main draw wins on the grass this year.

18-year-old McDonald and 21-year-old Banks made the headlines in knocking out two of the top seeds in this year’s tournament, while Stoiber produced a stunning comeback to reach the second round for the second time in her short career.

McDonald trailed 5-2 in the first set against seventh seed Arianne Hartono but fought back to take it in a tie-break on her way to a 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-2 victory in over two hours.

That sets up a second-round clash with Lanlana Tararudee of Thailand, after she got the better of Mimi Xu.

“I thought it was a really good performance,” said McDonald, who is supported by our Pro Scholarship Programme presented by Lexus. “As I came from behind in the first set, then it was a close second and luckily, I got the front edge at the beginning of the third.

“I was really happy with the performance; she played well too so it was a really competitive match.”

Hailing from Preston, about an hour and a half away, McDonald had plenty of support in the stands and she felt that played a big role in getting her over the line.

She added: “It’s nice to be up here and have a nice venue for a nice tournament. I’m thankful for the crowd who came to watch me as well.

“I’m really grateful for it, I know some people in the crowd, it’s nice to see some familiar faces. Hopefully it will be the same for the next matches.

“I was trying to keep my cool. I’m glad I got the early break because it helped me relax in the third set, as well as the crowd.”

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Banks was in outstanding form as she powered past Japan’s Mai Hontama 6-1 6-2, to set up a clash with Jessika Ponchet of France in the last 16.

The young Brit flew out of the blocks, breaking at the first opportunity in both sets on the way to a convincing victory, and singled out her serve as the key factor in the result.

She said: “I love my serve, it was working well today, overall, it was really solid.

 “I had a game plan and I thought I executed that really well. I went through it with my coaches before the match and I was feeling really confident. It was a tough match even though the score may not have said so, but I was really happy with how I played.”

While she admits she is still finding her feet on grass, Banks believes her game is well-suited to performing on in the longer term.

She added: “I haven’t had a lot of experience on grass, but I think my game style suits it really well. I feel confident on it, and I think the more matches I play, the more confident I’ll be.

“I’m feeling really good, I’m really looking forward to the next round. Each match is going to be tough so I’ve just got to get myself ready.”

Closing out the trio of British winners in the women's draw today was 19-year-old Stoiber who came from behind to defeat Slovakia's Renata Jamrichova 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(5).

The young Brit saved five break points in the second set to level the scores and then another at 5-5 in the decider to see out her second career victory in Ilkley after two hours and 11 minutes.

“It was my first match on the grass," she said. "It was pretty tough. I just wanted to get out there and battle, fight as much as I could. The last two matches I’ve had were on indoor hard so I was just really happy to get some time on the grass.

“I think I adjusted quite well, I didn’t have a lot of hitting on the grass, even my warm-up was on indoor hard. But I just focused on what I know to do well on the grass. I really enjoy playing on the grass, so just trusted myself.”

A promising junior player - Stoiber previously reached the semi-final at Junior Australian Open and well as quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open. Her next opponent will be Canadian Rebecca Marino.

This article was co-written with Paul Eddison at Sportsbeat.

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