What a year for Johanna Konta! Now be honest, who called that in January? I didn’t! I have always known she has top 100 potential but to brush aside the quality players time and time again has been nothing short of remarkable. Johanna started the year ranked 146 and finishes at 47, which is impressive by any standards.
It all started at the French Open, coming through qualifying with performances full of hard hitting, aggressive movement, a new found serenity and buckets of promise. With the grass court season around the corner, Jo would have every opportunity to make her long overdue break through.
The opportunities came and she didn’t just break through, she smashed her way through all the while maintaining her calm and focus. The way in which Jo discarded top 10 players like Garbiñe Muguruza and Simona Halep was incredible to watch as it wasn’t a case of they hadn’t played well, they had put in a top 10 performance but they just could not get her off balance. Come on Jo, top 25 awaits!
Katie Swan gets my vote for ‘Brit to Watch’ in 2016 and to be honest there wasn’t much competition. At 16 years old Katie has only just embarked on her professional career and has already proved that no transition from the junior game will be needed. She still has a lot to learn but her game is ready to go on the WTA scene.
A compact player with a cracking serve and mighty tennis brain, Katie’s standout strength is her steely determination to get over the line. Moving to the women’s game for Katie is less about stepping up and more about stepping out loud and proud to announce her arrival. Bearing in mind she is still quite limited in the amount of professional tournament she can play due to her age, I see her moving up the rankings fast and could have a ranking beginning with a two in 12 months’ time.
WTA shock of the year really is a tough one as it was full of surprises! Serena Williams not completing the calendar slam, an all Italian US Open Final and Agnieszka Radwanska triumphing at the WTA Finals were not expected by almost anyone. That being said there is one story that is made of legendary stuff, and that legend is Venus Williams. Finishing the year No. 7 (and could have been top five with some kinder draws), taking the Zhuhai title and just being able to produce a top 10 standard at the age of 35 and 21 years after her professional debut is quite extraordinary. Whether it is the fact that she is more experienced or because of the health battles she has experienced, Venus seems to be relishing every last drop of her success at the moment and no one deserves it more than her – a true champion.
So we go on to 2016 and I cannot wait! How will Serena cope on her comeback? Could Konta be seeded at Wimbledon? Who will win the Olympics? It’s going to be a good one.
Naomi Cavaday is a former British professional tennis player, who had a career high ranking of 174 in May 2010. She retired in 2011, and returned to professional tennis in 2014, before calling it a day in September 2015. She joins the Britwatch tennis writing team in time for a golden Slam next year – Blame it on Rio!
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