Aegon International: Harriet Dart says WTA Tour debut amazing

By Rob StevensBBC Sport at Aegon International, Eastbourne
Harriet Dart
Harriet Dart lost in the first round of the Wimbledon girls' singles last year
Aegon International
Venue: Devonshire Park, Eastbourne Dates: 20-27 June
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Harriet Dart says making her debut on the WTA Tour at the Aegon International was a "pretty amazing" experience.

The 18-year-old from West Hampstead was beaten 6-1 6-3 by world number 49 Dominika Cibulkova on Monday.

"It was a big step up but I really enjoyed it. I thought I played well," Dart told BBC Sport.

"Cibulkova has been in the top 10 and an Australian Open finalist. It was really great to be on court competing against someone like her."

She added: "I've got to be playing many more matches against people from a high level to be able to sustain it for a longer period of time."

Dart has spent this year playing on the ITF circuit, predominantly entering Challenger events in several Far East countries including Japan, Thailand and China.

"At a Challenger the highest person you play is inside 200, whereas this was a match against someone in the top 50," said Dart.

"Last year I travelled alone and it made me grow up a lot quicker than most 18-year-olds. I like travelling and I like playing tournaments and that is what you've got to do to climb the rankings."

Dart had been given a wildcard into Wimbledon qualifying but her involvement in Sussex now means she is unable to play at SW19, because of a WTA rule preventing her from playing in two events in one week.

"You've got to go back to reality and I'm definitely going to go back to Challengers," she said.

"I'll work my way up and I hope to be playing WTA events in the near future.

"I'm taking a lot of experience and motivation from Eastbourne to go out there, keep working really hard and get my level up."

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