Wimbledon: Karola Bejenaru confident of SW19 progress
Belfast tennis star Karola Bejenaru is confident she is timing her run to to perfection as she targets a place in the main draw of the girls championships at Wimbledon next week.
Bejenaru will head to London next week knowing victory in two qualification matches will see her join the main competition.
Last year, the Windsor Tennis Club member was drawn to face Hungarian Dalma Galfi in her first qualifying match but, despite battling bravely, she went out in three sets.
A year wiser and a year stronger, Bejenaru is determined to extend her stay on the famous grass courts this time around.
Last month she fell just short of qualifying for the French Open, and has since been keeping herself busy, reaching the doubles semi-final of the Junior Tournament of Offenbach in Germany as well as the last 32 of both the singles and doubles of the Allianz Kundler German Juniors in Berlin.
And with grass one of her favoured surfaces, Bejenaru believes she is well equipped to deal with the challenges ahead.
"I'm feeling really good at the moment and I'm just really excited about getting to Wimbledon and trying to qualify," she said.
"I went there last year and lost out to a Hungarian player, although I'd really like to go further this year.
"I enjoy playing on clay as that was the surface I started out on when I was younger, so playing at Roland Garros this year and getting the chance to go on the practice courts there was really good.
"But I mostly play on the hard courts and grass so getting the chance to try and make the main draw at Wimbledon is definitely something I'm aiming for.
"I'm happy with the way I've been playing this year, I've worked on a few things and I've had a good couple of months playing in Europe gaining experience.
"Wimbledon is the big tournament; probably the most famous tournament out there and the grass courts are some of the best around. I'm just really looking forward to it all."
Bejenaru will turn 18 on the first day of the Championships in Wimbledon, with this year representing her last year on the junior circuit.
A short break will follow on from the All England Championships before she turns her attention towards the senior circuit, with Bejenaru well aware the hard work is only just beginning.
"It's going to be a big step up for me going to the seniors," she added. "But I am really excited, I know it's going to be hard work but it's what I work towards every day in training.
"I just want to play at the highest level possible and show what I can do."
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Meanwhile, British No.2 Johanna Konta's fine run at the Aegon International at Eastbourne has come to end after she was defeated in the last eight by Belinda Bencic.
Konta's run to the quarter-finals had seen her knock out two seeds - including world No.8 Ekaterina Makarova - but despite taking the first set she was convincingly beaten by Bencic, 2-6, 6-0, 6-3.
The 18-year-old Swiss player, ranked 31st in the world, will now face Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-finals after the Dane beat Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 6-1.
On the other side of the draw, Sloane Stephens made it into the last four courtesy of a walkover against Daria Gavrilova who was forced to withdraw due to an abdominal injury, handing American Stephens a semifinal tie against Agnieszka Radwanska.
The Polish world No.13, needed just two sets to get past Tsvetana Pironkova, winning 6-2, 6-2.