Katy Dunne underlined her burgeoning potential on the biggest stage of them all this week with a stirring performance at Wimbledon against a player 811 places above her in the world rankings and three years her senior.
The Halton Tennis Centre prodigy made it to the first round proper of qualifying for the ladies singles after being handed a wildcard.
Dunne, who only turned 18 in February, had made the semi-finals of pre-qualifying at SW19 before losing to Mel South.
However, due to her fantastic form in the last year – which has seen her rise from 118 to ninth in the Junior World Rankings – Dunne was rewarded with a wildcard for the first round of qualifying.
She netted a tough match against Italy’s Nastassja Burnett, who is ranked 136th in the world in the women’s game – Dunne’s fledgling singles rank is 947.
Playing as the underdog, Tuesday afternoon’s match was viewed as a ‘bonus’ by the Dunne camp as she took to court six.
Ahead of the encounter, the teenager’s Halton coach, Peter Thorne, of Aylesbury, who was with his young star at Wimbledon, predicted she would trouble the Italian.
And his words were vindicated as Dunne belied her age and lack of senior experience making Burnett fight for every game in a creditable 6-3, 6-2 defeat. Dunne went 2-0 down in the first before fighting back to 3-2 and then 4-3 and in the second she again clawed back from 2-0 to 2-2 before Burnett’s experience told.
The result was not nearly as important as the vital career experience, though, according to coach Thorne.
“It was a great opportunity to gain valuable experience and go out there and have a swing and play with no pressure,” Thorne said.
“She’s playing great tennis and as I said before the match she was able to trouble the Italian.
“It was also great preparation for when she competes in the Wimbledon Juniors which starts June 29.”
Meanwhile, Dunne’s club Halton is currently hosting its first ever 12 and under Junior Tennis Europe Tournament which runs until Saturday June 22.