When Jodie Burrage beat Johanna Konta 6-4 6-3 on day one of the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis event, she underlined her status as one of the new stars of British tennis.
It was a performance full of conviction from the World No.293, who produced tennis worthy of a top-100 player as she repeatedly pinned her more experienced opponent behind the baseline and hit a succession of eye-catching winners on both her forehand and backhand sides.
Displays such as this are becoming much more commonplace from the Hindhead-born player, 21, who has arguably produced the best tennis of her life during the last month. So far, she has played 18 matches during July and won 15.
In the first two weeks, Burrage reached two finals on the British Tour. She lost the first 6-4 2-6 10-4 to Emma Raducanu and defeated Freya Christie 6-1 4-6 10-7 in the second. These results set her up perfectly for The Progress Tour Women’s Championships, which was shown on BBC Sport and was therefore the British public’s first real opportunity to see her in action.
The World No.293 thrived in front of the cameras. She thrashed two lower-ranked opponents, Emily Arbuthnott and Alice Gillan, then provided Katie Boulter with a considerable challenge in the last group match.
In the semi-final, Burrage stayed patient throughout as Alicia Barnett sought to tire her out with a seemingly endless succession of long rallies. Then she came within a hold of serve of beating Boulter in the final.
It was an excellent week for the young Brit, and one imagines that most viewers will have been impressed by what they saw.
Those who watched Burrage beat Konta may have been astounded by what they witnessed. Although the British number one was some way off her best, the way the youngster dismantled her was remarkable.
And it begs the question: how good can Burrage be? Certainly, that display suggests that a place in the WTA top 100 could be well within her reach. And considering that is the stated aim of the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme (PSP), their decision to award the young Brit a place on the scheme would be completely vindicated if she can reach such heights.
Burrage hails effect of LTA scholarshipEmbed from Getty Images
When Burrage was asked about by the LTA website about the PSP, she seemed confident it would help her follow in the footsteps of fellow alumni Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart. “Both of them have done really well, they’ve jumped up to top 100 and I think Harriet’s 120 or so now,” she said. “(The PSP) has helped them to get where they are today, so hopefully I’ll be able to go through the same steps they have and be able to get where they are too.”
The Brit continued, “I was really proud to be selected for it – a lot of people believe in you once you get selected for it so I was really happy to have that chance to be on it. It’s allowed me to travel with a coach wherever I go, which is a massive thing for a tennis player as it means you’re not always on your own when you’re travelling.”
The PSP has also given Burrage access to high-quality fitness trainers and psychologists, meaning she can work hard at all aspects of her game. And the effects are clear to see in the Brit’s performances, as her movement and stamina have noticeably improved since she appeared at Surbiton in June 2019, and she seems calmer and more confident on court too.
All things considered, the future looks bright for Burrage and, if she continues to improve at her current rate, she could become a very exciting player indeed.