Jo Konta, who concluded her breakthrough season on the WTA Tour to become the British #1, is raring to maintain her momentum in 2016 and delight her home fans at Devonshire Park in the Aegon International.
The Australian-born ace moved to Great Britain 10 years ago as her Hungarian parents wanted her to thrive on the tennis circuit.
And now the hard work and ambitions for Eastbourne-based Konta, who was originally well supported by the much criticised LTA, is paying dividends.
Konta explained: “I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for the LTA, they have supported me for a number of years.”
Twelve months ago Konta was world ranked #150, forced to compete on the lower tier, but has plans for 2016 to continue her success story with her schedule on the WTA Tour filling up with the Australian Open followed by the Fed Cup competition against hosts Israel then the big tournaments – such as Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami – pencilled in.
Konta admitted: “I’m really looking forward to next season as I will be playing a lot of tournaments I haven’t played before, week in week out playing against the best players in the world.”
The 24-year-old Briton, who finished last term at world #47, has little funding from the LTA. So she splits her training time between Gijon in northern Spain with coaches Esteban Carril and Jose-Manuel Garcia, and the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton.
Eclipsing Guernsey’s Heather Watson to take over the prestigious mantle of British no1 in 2015 came courtesy of grinding out results on the professional circuit, which included victories over a trio of top 10 stars (Romania’s Simona Halep, Spaniard Garbine Murguruza and Russian Ekaterina Makarova).
But one top 10 ace, Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova, halted Konta’s run as a qualifier at the 2015 US Open – where she became only the second British woman since 1991 to reach the 4th Round at Flushing Meadows.
Konta enthused about 2016: “Wow, main draw of the Grand Slam events.”
And with Rio 2106 also on the horizon, Konta has every opportunity to continue her rise up the rankings with the ambition to become a top 20 hit on the WTA Tour.