Annika Beck on a rapid rise after Pro-Series Barnstaple tennis triumph
FOUR years ago, a relatively unknown 20-year-old German was knocked out in the second round of the Barnstaple Open.
Today, Angelique Kerber is ranked fifth in the world and a US Open semi-finalist.
If age and success at the Tarka Tennis Centre is any indicator, then who knows where Kerber's compatriot Annika Beck will be in 2016?
While Kerber beat a 14-year-old Laura Robson in the first round, she fell at the next hurdle to Alberta Brianti, the eventual runner-up.
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In contrast, Beck, 18, cruised through the rounds at this year's AEGON GB Pro-Series Barnstaple, as the tournament is now known.
She did not drop a set until Sunday's final when she came from behind to beat Eleni Daniilidou, of Greece, 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-2.
It has been a remarkable year for Beck, the junior French Open champion, who has won five of her last six tournaments on the ITF circuit and 20 consecutive matches.
"I'm surprised because I never thought I could win two tournaments in this category in a row," she said. "It's an amazing feeling for me that I am improving like this."
Beck can now look forward to the Australian Open in the new year.
Having leapt to No 78 in the world, she will go straight into the main draw in Melbourne and begin trying to make her name at the highest level – the WTA tour.
"We will see how I will do," said Beck. "I hope that I can improve like this there as well.
"I just want to improve my tennis to the next step and beat some higher-ranked players.
"I will learn so much next year if I can play against top-ten players some time."
Beck is still near the foot of a ladder Daniilidou has already scaled, only to slide down the snakes of injury and advancing years.
Now 30, it is more than nine years since she reached the heights of No 14 in the world.
But having shaken off a loss of form earlier this year – "I didn't win a match for three and a half months" – Daniilidou is heading in the right direction again.
And she was relieved to earn the ranking points she needed in Barnstaple to return to the top 100 and join Beck in the main draw for the next Grand Slam.
Daniilidou battled through punishing three-set matches against Ekaterina Bychkova and Vesna Dolonc – two of the best contests in the history of this tournament – to achieve her goal and was understandably exhausted come the deciding set in the final.
Daniilidou said: "It was not only the long matches, it was very emotionally tiring because I had to win one or two matches (to make the Australian Open).
"Physically I was, in the end, not the best on court but it was a great tournament. I came here not expecting that I would go so far.
"I tried, I gave my best, and that's tennis, one is winning, one is losing.
"Annika played better, she was strong mentally and physically, so congratulations to her."
It was Daniilidou who was first to show mental strength in a final watched by a crowd of about 400.
The Greek player was 4-1 down in the first set but won five of the next six games to lead 6-5.
Beck managed to force a tie-break as the match settled into a pattern of rallies rarely amounting to fewer than ten shots.
Daniilidou, whose one-handed backhand has more slice than Hovis, conjured up some magical winners to race through the tie-break with only one point dropped.
But for all Daniilidou's classic style, it was the teenager who had the energy needed to carry her to victory.
With Beck scampering back and forth on the baseline, Daniilidou found it increasingly hard to find a way past.
The German came from 40-0 down to break her opponent's serve in the second game of the second set.
Daniilidou immediately broke back, only for Beck to break again and win five out of six games to take the match into a deciding set.
At first it seemed too close to call, particularly when Beck netted a forehand to give Daniilidou a break in game one.
The turning point came in the next game when a Daniilidou forehand was called wide by the line judge, handing Beck three break points.
The Greek let out a howl of anger at the decision and took her argument to the umpire, to no avail.
Daniilidou saved one of the break points but then put a backhand wide and her head dropped.
"On a hard court, it's never an easy job for the umpire or the linesman," said Daniilidou.
"When you're tired emotionally and physically, it doesn't help, but it's not the reason (I lost)."
Beck eased into a 5-1 lead to serve for the championship. She was denied victory at that point but won the next game against Daniilidou's serve, clinching the victory with a forehand winner.
"It was a tough final, she was playing very well and the slice is very difficult for me," said Beck who has beaten Daniilidou in three three-set matches this year.
"The result was closer than it looks because we had tough, long games and actually I'm very happy that I could finish it."