Henry Patten believes he’s finally finding his finest UK Pro League form after storming to the Week 4 title against Dan Cox in Loughborough, writes Will Jennings.
Patten, the British No.24, toppled evergreen Cox, 30, 6-2 6-3 in Sunday’s showpiece to clinch his maiden victory of the season and rack up a crucial 18 ranking points.
Patten, 24, was beaten by Anton Matusevich in the Week 3 final but bounced back in style at the Dan Maskell Tennis Centre to haul himself up to 33 points for the season.
The Essex ace competed at Classic Week of last year’s UK Pro Series but reckons he’s only now hitting his peak after a dominant display in front of the BT Sport cameras.
Patten, who lost to table-topping Cox 6-3 6-1 on Thursday in the round robin format, said: “I think it’s definitely the best tennis I’ve played at any of these events.
“To do it in the final is pretty satisfying. I felt like I’ve been building up to it all week and when you play this many matches, you’re seeing then ball pretty well.
“Congratulations to Dan for an unbelievable week – he didn’t drop a set in our group, and was really the dominant player.
“When you play Dan, he gives you opportunities and you just have to play well consistently for an hour and a half – or however long it takes.
“He just maintains his levels so well. He’s so experienced in the big moments – it’s tough, but I knew it was doable.”
Patten is a huge fan of the innovative UK Pro League format – the brainchild of Andy Murray’s coach Jamie Delgado – and added: “Any opportunity you get to play in these tournaments, you can’t really pass up.
“The money that they raise here is just unparalleled – and you can’t pass these up.”
The Premier League of British tennis, the season-long UK Pro League brings together the country’s top professional tennis players across nine separate weeks from March to December.
Britain’s leading stars compete in a round robin format in eight individual qualifying weeks, with the weekend play-offs then giving them the opportunity to accumulate valuable ranking points to seal qualification for December’s Finals Week.
And another player who’s come flying out of the traps is battle-hardened Emily Appleton – who reckons jet-setting to Jerusalem is the perfect recipe for catalysing her assault on the overall title.
The Surrey star, strapped in bandaging after an injury scare last week, sealed her third win in four weeks after toppling Week 3 nemesis Eliz Maloney 6-3 7-5 in Sunday’s final.
Appleton, the British No.18, went down in straight sets against Maloney, 20, in last week’s showpiece but re-established her Loughborough hegemony with a dazzling display.
She’s flying straight out to Israel for a tournament this week and hopes a dollop of international experience can continue her searing start to the domestic season.
The indefatigable 21-year-old said: “At 8am tomorrow morning you can catch me at Terminal 5!
“I’ve got 12 hours to recover and get ready for next week. I haven’t actually felt great all week, so I’m very happy with the win.
“I was considering not playing last week, but I’m very happy. I need to do all the recovery I can now to get ready for next week.
“Honestly after these four weeks, if someone said I’d have won three of them I would never have believed you. This is the cherry on top.
“It’s really exciting – but I’m just so done right now! Eliz worked me to my hardest and it was such a great and match from her, so I’m just happy to get over the line.”
Like Patten, Appleton revels in the UK Pro League format and added: “You can count on me being in Weeks 5, 6, 7 and 8!”
Elsewhere, Week 1 winner Joshua Paris scooped third-place in the men’s competition while the precocious Alice Gillan claimed the final spot on the podium on the women’s side.
Paris, 25, toppled Leeds ace Luke Johnson – the British No.14 – 6-2 6-3 while Gillan, 22, eased past Nadia Rawson 6-2 6-2.
Julian Cash and Katarina Stresnakova finished fifth in their respective competitions with wins against Dan Little and Freya Christie, while George Houghton and Emma Wilson were seventh after their victories over Mason Recci and Danielle Daley on Sunday.
It’s Appleton who continues to set the pace at the summit of the women’s standings ahead of Maloney, while on the men’s side, Matusevich – who did not compete in Week 4 – tops the table ahead of Cox, Paris and Patten.
The UK Pro League will now take a two-month hiatus before Britain’s leading players next descend on the court, with Week 5 scheduled to get underway on July 12 as the race to Finals Week intensifies.
With a prize fund of around £500k and Broadcast live on BT Sport, the UK Pro League is the only place where the British player group come together to compete across the full year