Rothesay Open Nottingham 2023: Arthur Fery & George Loffhagen claim first Challenger wins as nine Brits progress to second round
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The Brits stole the headlines on day two at the Rothesay Open Nottingham, as nine home stars booked their place in the second round of the WTA and ATP Challenger main draws.
While many of today’s winners – Andy Murray, Harriet Dart, Jodie Burrage and new British No.1 Katie Boulter – will be familiar to most fans, there are some new faces on the block making a name for themselves at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.
20-year-old Arthur Fery and 22-year-old George Loffhagen clinched their first career Challenger wins over former world No.21 Steve Johnson and Finland’s Otto Virtanen.
Having had to return to Centre Court to play a third and final set after rain suspended their match yesterday, wild card Fery played with real energy and purpose to seal a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory and the biggest win of his career.
“I’m very happy to get through today,” Fery said. “It was a weird one actually, finishing yesterday and then having to come back again this afternoon but it’s great to get my first Challenger win, it’s been a long time coming. It’s great to beat a player like Steve as well and hopefully there’s many more wins to come.
“It was different to a normal match as obviously you’ve only got one set to play. I tried to come out with a lot of energy and a bit of fire in my step.
“It was awesome playing in front of the home crowd, especially at the end today,” he said. “It’s not often you play with that big of a crowd and being on home soil it’s great to have that support. It definitely got me through the end.”
The young Brit has recently finished his season playing for Stanford University in the States, where he finished the No.3 ranked player in the ITA rankings. His performances in the NCAA have meant that he can benefit from the ATP Collegiate Accelerator Programme to help him into more ATP Challenger main draws soon.
Fery is just one of many Brits to come through the collegiate system on the LTA NCAA Support Programme – including British No.1 Cam Norrie and recent doubles world No.1s Neal Skupski and Joe Salisbury.
“Players like Steve, Cam inspire me and the inspire loads of other players as well,” Fery said. “For the next few years people will see how much success college tennis is getting on the pro tour and hopefully I can follow in their footsteps. I think it’s a great path for young players who don’t think they are ready to play 35 weeks a year on tour.
“I’m always confident in myself and whenever I make that transition – wins like today prove I’m ready to take that next step.”
Loffhagen on the other hand, is no stranger here in Nottingham, having already won an ITF $25k event here in May.
“I’m really happy about – let’s see if I can go again tomorrow,” Loffhagen said after coming through in straight sets.
“It was a decent match, I started well serving pretty good in the first set and managed to get an important break. I felt like I went a bit tight at a break up in the second and then we were just trying to get chances against each other’s serves. I managed to close it out in the tie-break but it was a bit of a tight one.
“There was a bit of home support which is nice, we don’t always get that in the Futures and there were a few familiar faces out there which was great.”
On the women’s side, there will also be plenty for the British fans to cheer for. Burrage beat Tereza Martincova 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(4) in the first match on Centre today, while Dart and Boulter picked up straight sets wins over on Court 1 and 2.
Yesterday, Heather Watson became the first Brit to reach round two – knocking out Jule Niemeier 6-4, 6-3 to avenge her fourth round Wimbledon loss last year.