By Glenys Furness
- Andy Lapthorne, James Shaw & Antony Cotterill win the Quads World Cup
- Gordon Reid & Alfie Hewitt miss out on the GB Double
ALGHERO, ITALY – Great Britain were on the verge of history in Italy. The Men were in both finals of the World Team Cup, the Wheelchair equivalent of the Davis Cup.
With a format very similar to the lower levels of the Federation Cup, the teams were playing in one location over the period of a week. With three round robin matches and then a semi-final and final all played at one venue. Both the Quads team and the Wheelchair teams were looking to bring the cups back to GB shores.
The team of Andy Lapthorne, James Shaw & Antony Cotterill lost only two rubbers in the round robin event. Cotterill lost the first singles rubber of the week to Shota Kawano. The match was very topsy turvey with the Brit winning being strolled over in the first set, only for Cotterill to return the favour in the second. The final set though was once again dominated by the Japanese player and Cotterill found himself on the wrong side of a 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 scoreline. Lapthorne then totally dominated the second singles to draw level 6-0, 6-0 meaning a vital doubles rubber with Lapthorne and Cotterill was needed. The Brits won this easily 6-3, 6-3.
The second Round Robin match had the Brits against South Korea. This match was a whitewash for the Brits as they won each rubber in straight sets to go 3-0 up and move into the final Round Robin fixture. Canada were the team they faced in the final round robin match. Lapthorne & Cotterill both won the singles without much trouble, Shaw and Lapthorne made up the doubles and Canada took this in straight sets, but GB were through to the knockout stages.
In the semi-final the Brits faced USA and Cotterill was up first, once again the Brit found himself on the losing end of a three set battle. Teaming up again with Lapthorne for the vital doubles, the Brits had to win the match tiebreak to set up the final spot against Israel.
Resting Cotterill from the singles, Shaw played the first singles match of the final. Noam Gershony dominated both sets and Shaw was only able to win three games. Lapthorne levelled things up with an easy straight sets win, to bring the final down to the doubles. The Brits totally dominated the Israelis and the Quads team were world Champions again. This is the third time Lapthorne has won the event and the fifth time Britain has won it.
The round robin matches for Gordon Reid, Alfie Hewitt & Dermot Bailey strolled through the round robin sections. Austria, Italy and China proved no match for the Brits as each were defeated 3-0 to easily pass the Brits into the semi-final. Their opponents were Poland. Between them Reid and Hewitt only lost four games in the two rubbers. The final doubles rubber was not played, and the Brits were in the final.
The only problem with the final was their opponents who were the French. Stephane Houdet & Nicolas Peifer out rank Reid & Hewitt in both singles and doubles. The French are the World number one in doubles the Brits number two. Houdet is singles No. 1, with Reid No. 2, Peifer is No. 5 in singles and Hewitt No. 7.
Hewitt managed to secure the first rubber against Peifer breaking once in each set to take the match 6-3, 6-3. Houdet though levelled up by taking the second rubber against Reid 6-4, 6-3. It would all come down to the doubles.
As well as the Brits played, the experience of the French pairing showed here, and in a repeat of the Wimbledon final and the Rio Olympic final the French and the Brits were after the trophy. With a win each at the previous events, the Wimbledon Champions were defeated by the Gold medallists. The Brits only won three games, but the scoreline does not reflect the match. Most of the games went to deuce before they lost serve or the breakpoints. It was a great effort but not to be for the team this year.
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