WHAT do you do when you've played on the UK tennis tour over the past two years and made steady, but limited progress?

Well, if you're Bexley's Jim May, you head off to university, gain your first world ranking point and qualify for the end-of-year National Championships held at Bolton.

Last month, May, aged 20, started a sports science degree at Loughborough University. Shortly afterwards he entered a Futures tournament in Glasgow, winning his first world ranking point.

At the National Championships, Britain's newly-appointed number 28, with a world ranking of 1363, won two matches to qualify for the main draw for the second successive year.

Having beaten Jeff Hunter (Surrey) 6-3, 7-5 and Rhys Hanger (Dorset) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, May, unfortunately lost to Norfolk's Richard Bloomfield, after missing a match point opportunity in the final set tie-break, when serving.

Bloomfield won 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, but was then himself knocked out in the next round by Arvind Parmar.

Oliver Freelove, who is from Bromley and was the 1999 men's doubles winner and 2000 runner-up, decided not to play this year due to an injury that has plagued him since the sum-mer.

This left May as Kent's only represen-tative in the men's tournament, after Stephen Weatherall lost in the first round of the qualifying event to Berkshire's Rob Green 6-3,


May's doubles exploits were also short-lived as he and Surrey's Daniel Tegg, lost to eventual singles winner Lee Childs, and partner James Davidson

7-6, 6-3 in the first round.

Chantal Coombs, who is world-ranked at 1073, played her first match against qualifier Claire Ricketts, of Hertfordshire, and never felt at ease on the indoor courts, losing 6-1,

6-7, 6-2.

The Beckenham player partnered Nathalie Neri of Middlesex in the doubles, and although the pair raced to a first set 4-1 lead, they eventually lost 6-4, 6-3 to Suffolk's Melissa Berry and Lancashire's Kelly Simkin.