The British presence seems very depleted compared to last year. Great shame.
Yeah it is a shame, the injuries and stronger field this year certainly hasn't helped.
Last year there were 8 Brits in the main draw, 4 direct and 4 MDWCs - the WCs included Heather who was withdrawn for still being in RG doubles and then came back in as a late WC - that's a possibility this year as well because Heather has her doubles match on Thursday.
It was a 32 Q field last year and it involved 12 Brits (5 QWCs), there were 3 rounds of Qs, but no Brits managed to make it into the FQR. This year, it's a 24 person field (4 QWCs), so there'll be less Brits involved there as well, but only 2 rounds and depending on who plays, hopefully more chance of getting someone through.
There will inevitably still be a few withdrawals, due to those still in RG, but I certainly can't see the entry cut off being as low as 223 like it was last year, and the only person (outside of Harriet) who might have made the main draw directly was Katie S, but that's gone now. Best we can hope for is Heather and Harriet in main draw, joined by Naiktha, Jodie, Katy D and possibly Maia as MDWCs. When you factor in the future withdrawals, MDWCs leaving the qualifying list, no SE's etc., at best, Naomi might sneak into quals directly, which would then free up a QWC - not sure who the faves for those 4 slots will be, but we're probably looking at a max of 11 Brits combined (6 and 5), whereas last year there were 20 involved overall.
It is a bit annoying. I was just checking and for the Luan W60 event in China a couple of weeks ago, there were 20/32 Chinese players in the main draw with the last direct entrant being ranked 394, and there were a further 19 home players in the qualifying draw (3 of which qualified). Now they benefit from geography as half the tour were in Europe at that time, but the very few WTA and significant ITF events that we do put on over here, it is the generally focal point of the tour at the time, so therefore the entry lists are much stronger and less chance to boost rankings (although I suppose the grass in itself is a bit of a leveller), but imagine if we had about 40 Brits in a big ITF event. Mind, even if we put a big event on at a random time of the year, it would still somehow be filled with good, high level European players due to geographical reasons.