Photo: TD Sport Society$25,000 Phuket - wc 22 April 2013 - Misa Eguchi (JPN)
21-year-old Japanese player Misa Eguchi is our first featured player of 2014.
Eguchi, who came close to cracking the WTA Top 200 back in mid-2012 with a career high of 213, took part in tournaments in Hong Kong and Australia.
2013 was seen out and the New Year welcomed whilst at the $25,000 hard court event in Hong Kong where she was among the unseeded players for the singles event but seeded second with Eri Hozumi in the doubles.
Her singles play got off to a promising start with a 64 60 defeat of lucky loser Boyan Wang before suffering a second round exit at the hands of Mayo Hibi, the number eight seed.
Better fortune was to come her way in the doubles event despite facing some pretty tough opposition. A 75 64 quarterfinal win was sandwiched between two three setters, the second of which saw her and partner Hozumi recover from a set down to win through to the final.
The duo claimed the title, Eguchi’s second of her career, to ensure their opening week of 2014 ended on a high note with a 64 62 win over Zarina Diyas and Ling Zhang. This title win would also be enough to take Eguchi into the WTA Top 200 on the 13 January ranking release.
Eguchi did not play again until the start of the final week of the month where she was entered into a $50,000 tournament in Australia.
Once again competing on her favoured hard court surface, a victory in the Australian city of Burnie would give her a first singles title since her May 2011 win in Karuizawa, Japan and would be her biggest career title.
An early exit was made in the doubles event with her Australian partner Viktorija Rajicic with the pair going down in straight sets in the second round to Ashleigh Barty and Jessica Moore.
Unseeded in singles, as she had also been in the doubles, Eguchi drew the fifth seed Tereza Mrdeza in round one and ran out an impressive 63 60 winner.
Three further straight sets victories took her into a first singles final since a $10,000 tournament in Sydney during February 2013.
In her biggest title match of her career she faced Russia’s Elizaveta Kulichkova, who, like Eguchi was unseeded. A close opening set was settled 64 in favour of the Russian but Eguchi struck back to concede just five games of the next seventeen played to wrap up a 46 62 63 win.
The WTA rankings released immediately following this tournament saw Eguchi return to the Top 250, at 236, for the first time since July 2012.