Emma Raducanu’s sensational US Open triumph provides the perfect precursor for another thrilling week of UK Pro League drama.
Raducanu, 18, captured British hearts by beating fellow teen Leylah Fernandez to become the first ever qualifier – male or female – to win a Grand Slam on Saturday night.
The Bromley ace was crowned the inaugural champion of last year’s UK Pro Series and just over 12 months on, this season’s stars are now bidding to follow in her glittering Flushing Meadows footsteps.
Surrey’s Emily Appleton, 22, remains the runaway leader in the women’s standings while Julian Cash tops the table on the men’s side of the draw.
Appleton will be hellbent on extending her lead against a star-studded line-up at the University of Bath this week, with Billy Harris, Dan Cox, George Houghton and Sean Hodkin seeking to capitalise on Cash’s absence and cut the gap at the summit of the men’s competition. Cash roared to Week 6 glory in Chelsea last time out but will miss the Week 7 showpiece as a whole host of new faces enter the expanded men’s fray.
David Quayle, Miles Groom and Ben Jones will line up alongside Harris in Box A while Giles Hussey, Felix Mischker and Tiarnan Brady will duel it out with Luke Johnson – who reached Classic Week of last year’s UK Pro Series – in Box B.
With 16 players competing in the men’s draw – rather than the usual 12 – it’s Cox, Adam Jones, Ewan Moore and Matthew Rutter in Box C and Hodkin, Houghton, Ying Hou and Liam Hignett in the fourth and final group.
Harris, 26, is the highest-placed contender of the Week 7 line-up and lies just three points behind Cash while the experienced Cox, Houghton and Hodkin remain in hot pursuit.
Cash’s Week 6 triumph hauled him up to 51 points but with Harris on 48, Cox on 37 and Houghton and Hodkin on 29 and 28, the stage is set for a pulsating battle in the West Country.
In the women’s draw, 12 players feature as Freya Christie, Alice Gillan and Sonay Kartal bid to reel in Appleton at the top of the table.
Appleton romped to victories in Weeks 1, 2 and 4 and despite holding an 18-point lead over Eliz Maloney – who beat her in the Week 3 final – at the summit, will be eager to rediscover her momentum.
She will line up against Danielle Daley and Jizel Fernandes in Box B while Box A is made up of Christie – who lies 20 points below Maloney in third – Katarina Stresnakova and Emilia Banos-Gregorians.
Kartal comes into the week as the player in form, however, racking up a crucial 36 points by winning Week 5 and 6 to catapult herself up the standings. She will face off against Gillan and Maddie Brooks in Box C, while it’s Nadia Rawson, Emma Wilson and Tiffany William who make up the final group.
All eyes will be on whether Kartal can make it a UK Pro League hat-trick and if she channels the spirit of trailblazer Raducanu in New York on Saturday night, you wouldn’t bet against her.