CLAIRE RICKETTS' attempts to climb up the international tennis rankings look to have been boosted two-fold.

Off the court, 17-year-old Ricketts, along with Batchwood Tennis Academy partner Katharine Baker, has recently secured a sponsorship deal with Chorleywood and Northwood Sports, who are financially assisting the pair on the costly tennis circuit by providing them with tennis clothing and helping them to secure racquet contracts.

Buoyed by this, Ricketts, whose target is to imporve her WTA ranking of 1237, looks in good form as the grass season commences.

On Tuesday, June, Ricketts, coached by the award winning trio of Mandy Franks, Liz Jones and Sergio Gomez Cuesta was in action in the qualifying rounds of the testing Grade One ITF tournament at Roehampton, London which is expected to feature a host of players in the top 100.

Ricketts, with an ITF ranking of 267, in her first grass court tournament of the year, qualified for the main draw, which starts on Sunday, in impressive form by cruising through two qualifying rounds.

Firstly, the powerful right-hander comfortably brushed aside Francesca Kinslade 6-2, 6-2 and then was in equally dominant mood in her 6-2, 6-1 win over Amber Silverstone.

At the beginning of the month, Ricketts reached the quarter final of an ITF Grade Five tournament in Rabat the capital of Morocco.

In her opening match, Ricketts dropped just one set in overcoming Asmae Tazi, of the home country, 6-0, 6-1 in a solid performance.

Ricketts continued her fine form into the second round as she produced one of her best all round performances of the year with a good attacking display in disposing of Rie Imia of Japan 6-1, 6-1.

Her competition ended in the last eight were she put up a brave fight against the eventual winner Sylvia Montero before going down 6-4 6-2 to the French girl.

Next up on the demanding circuit for Ricketts is an ITF Grade Three tournament in Tunisia followed by back-to-back tournaments in Portugal.

June 21, 2002 12:00