Jodie Burrage wasted no time qualifying for Classic Week and hopes perfect preparation can propel her to a memorable hometown glory in the UK Pro Series.
The British No.7 beat close friend Freya Christie in the first week of the exciting new event to book her place in the finals, having used lockdown to reach peak levels of fitness ahead of a busy schedule on the court.
Burrage hails from Hindhead - just 30 miles from St. George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club - and celebrated seven heaven in the first of five individual qualifying weeks in Weybridge, winning all of her matches before turning her attention to the Progress Tour and the Battle of the Brits.
The world No.289 hasn’t taken to the St.George’s courts since that win over Christie but says reaching peak levels of fitness can only serve her well.
“It’s good to see the work I did in lockdown has paid off - it was honestly like a pre-season for me and I’m definitely in the best shape I’ve ever been in,” the 21-year-old hotshot said.
“My schedule was quite busy so in the first week I was thinking ‘come on Jodie, I’ve got to win this one!’ so I can qualify for the big one at the end.
“I definitely think when we get to day four, five or six next week when it really matters, if you can be fresh, and fresher than other people, that’s going to make a difference.
“That’s why I’ve had little breaks - I’ve been training this week as it would just be too much to go straight into it.
“I like the format - you know you’ve got seven matches so it takes away that pressure of losing and allows you to play and improve as a player.
“I’d like to win it - I want to carry on with the mindset I’ve been playing with in the last few weeks, do as well as I can, put in good fight and see what happens.”
24 of the country’s leading players - 12 men, 12 women - will be split into two pools of six at St. George’s next week where they will duel it out ahead of finals weekend on August 15th and 16th.
And Burrage will be joined by a star-studded array of fellow British talent in Weybridge, with Harriet Dart, Naomi Broady and Eden Silva in the women’s draw and James Ward, Anton Matusevich, Arthur Fery and Liam Broady in the men’s.
The unique format was devised by Andy Murray’s coach Jamie Delgado, who is a member of the LTA Professional Tennis Advisory Group and will manage player liaison on the ground.
Burrage isn’t far off securing a qualifying spot for the Australian Open and wants to use Classic Week as a platform ahead of the resumption of the ITF tour.
“I’m looking to go to the first ITF event in September and just carry on what I’ve been doing, which is getting into tournaments that matter towards my rankings,” she added.
“I’m pretty close to getting into the qualifiers of Grand Slams - that’s what I want to do for the Australian Open and is my goal for the end of the year.
“With the tennis I’ve been playing in the last few weeks, hopefully I should be able to do that if there are enough tournaments on.”
12 of the UK’s top women and men have qualified through the UK Pro Series for the UK Pro Classic - www.ukproseries.com. The final 3 days of competition will have national free to air coverage: Freeview Channel 64, Sky Channel 422, Virgin Media Channel 553, TalkTalkTV Channel 64, BT TV Channel 64 and on download app FreeSportsPlayer.tv