Pride of place for Konta

Elena Baltacha, Elena Vesnina, Johanna Konta, News, Players, WTA Players

J Konta EB 2012The British pair of Johanna Konta and Elena Baltacha have been granted the last wildcard entries for the 2013 AEGON International.

It concludes a memorable week for 22-year-old Konta after receiving a wildcard into Wimbledon on Wednesday.

And British no6 Baltacha’sweek at the Nottingham Challenge has seen her progress into Saturday’s semi-final. 

Konta, the British no3, who has lived in Eastbourne since the age of 14, is relishing the opportunity to play in the main draw for the first time.

Granted British citizenship last summer, Konta was born in Australia to Hungarian parents but considers Eastbourne to be her home.

At the 2012 US Open Konta celebrated becoming with three qualifying triumphs and then a 1st Round success over Hungarian Timea Babos, a former Doubles partner.

At last year’s AEGON International, Konta saw off Stockport’s Naomi Broady in the 1st Round of qualifying only to then slip up to Russian Elena Vesnina.

The world no140 said: “I’m thrilled as Eastbourne is my home, so I hope to do the wildcard justice. It’s going to be great experience for me to play in the main draw in front of my home crowd.”

The 22-year-old has her work cut out in the toughest draw seen for a few years. Konta soared to the semi-finals at this month’s Nottingham Challenge on grass but the following week fell in the 2nd Round at Birmingham’s AEGON Classic.

Yet she came perilously close to causing a major upset at 2012 Wimbledon, but American ace Christina McHale took the 1st Round honours 10-8 in the third set in a dramatic match contested over two days on Court 17.

Elena BaltachaVeteran Baltacha, the former British no1 and a regular to Devonshire Park, was missing off the WTA Tour following a foot injury that required surgery after the London Olympics.

The 29-year-old said: “I feel as though I’m on cloud nine as the days.

“In the past few weeks a lot of things have happened, there are things thrown at me that I wasn’t familiar with after being out for so long.”

Konta will have to turn on the style and use the usually patriotic crowd to help lift her if she is going to make any impact at Devonshire Park in a fiercely competitive draw.

Yet Eastbourne has historically seen shock results and unexpected champions, so if Konta can remain keen then maybe she will one of the surprise floaters in the ladies event to make Eastbourne as proud of her as she is of the town.

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