- Jordanne Whiley & Alfie Hewett triumph as Wheelchair tennis restarts
- LTA host event with singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
ROEHAMPTON, UK – Jordanne Whiley and Alfie Hewett dominate the first event for the Wheelchair competitors, claiming singles and doubles victories.
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While the able bodied players returned in July, the Wheelchair competitors have had to wait slightly longer. As the US Open has now started and is in the early rounds, the wheelchair event is due to take place in Flushing Meadows as most years.
The LTA laid on a special warm up event for some of the British contingent over two days. A round robin event in the singles and two doubles matches (one men, one mixed doubles) provided the excellent opportunity to get in some matches.
Alfie Hewett kicked off proceedings in the singles, taking on the British number three Dermot Bailey. Hewett dominated the first set with his precision and power, whilst Bailey made too many unforced errors enabling the world number three (and British number one) to head into an early lead. Bailey managed to break Hewett at the start of the second set, but the British number one broke straight back and powered on to victory 6-1, 6-1.
Despite the performance Hewett had not known what to expect with the lack of match practice. The British number one said
“I didn’t really know what to expect today from either of us. I’ve had a bit more practice recently with Gordon (Reid) coming down to a camp so I think I was perhaps a bit more match ready than Dermot, and I was really happy with the level I played at today.
“I expected to be a lot worse than I was today – there were a couple of drop shots and movements that were a bit ridiculous but you just have to laugh them off at this stage. If you get up tight about it you end up just getting a lot more annoyed so it’s not worth it. You look at a lot of top level sport right now and I think this is the way it’s going to be for a while. I’m feeling good technically and physically, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to get out a get as much time on court as possible this week to get all those little details tied up.”
Jordanne Whiley was next up on the court, the British number one was against the British number two Lucy Shuker. The match was a bit of a rollercoaster as both struggled with their game and rhythm. Whiley edged into the lead even after four double faults in her first two service games. Once in the lead the British number one moved further ahead with aggressive tennis and secured the first set.
The second set saw Whiley move into an early lead and the British number one appeared to be coasting. However Shuker managed a slight fightback and pegged the match back to within reach. Whiley though served out the set to claim the win in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.
Gordon Reid was next on court, he was up against Bailey who was playing his second match of the day. Rio 2016 Paralympic medalist Reid wasted no time with a dominate performance against Bailey. The British number three must have wondered what he had done to upset the tennis gods as he suffered his second straight loss 6-1, 6-1.
Speaking after the match Reid said:
“The reason we’re here is to sharpen up in match play scenarios and I felt it was a pretty good base to start from today. There are always things to improve but it felt good. The thing that probably felt most rusty since I’ve been back is my serve. It’s not my most natural shot so it takes a lot of repetition to feel good – I’ve been doing a lot of work on it and it’s been getting better and better in training, but it was good to see how it goes in a match. It’s not exactly where I want it to be yet but there’s still time to get to that.” On the US Open the Brit went on to say “I’m feeling good about myself and I’m looking forward to getting out to one of the biggest events in tennis.”
Whiley ended the day with another victory this time against the British number three Louise Hunt. Whiley dominated the first set and prevented Hunt from getting any games on the board at all. In the second set Hunt was able to be a bit more competitive getting shots in. Whiley was not going to give in though, and through determination and fight claimed the win 6-0, 6-2.
Speaking after the match Whiley said:
“It was good being back on the match court again. I really wanted to play some competitive matches again as all I have been doing is drilling and got to the point where I said to myself I’m good with that now, I just want to play. Obviously there was some rust but somethings I was really happy with such as my brand new backhand which I “birthed” during the last couple of months. I wasn’t expecting it to be that good I’m pleased with how I controlled that.
“This week is really important preparation for next week and I’m grateful to the LTA for staging it on for us. I’m not match sharp at all and what I didn’t want to do was go from six months Day of training into a Grand Slam with literally no matches under my belt, with all of the emotions, pressure and adrenaline that comes with that.”
Day two kicked off with Hewett against his doubles partner Reid. This much anticipated match, lived up to the expectation with neither wanting to give an inch. The match was very close with Hewett just edging through in straight sets breaking Reid at the end of each set to take it 7-5, 7-5.
Shuker then took on Hunt in the remaining ladies singles. It was a very one sided affair with Shuker in total control and dominating from the outset. Hunt was out played and could do nothing, Shuker took the match for the loss of one game 6-0, 6-1.
Following on from this was the first of the doubles. Hewett & Reid prepared for the US Open doubles with a very entertaining doubles match. Their opponents were two-time Paralympian Marc McCarroll and the LTA Wheelchair tennis performance head coach Rob Cross. As Cross is able bodied he was playing tennis as the likes of Andy Murray, Kyle Edmund etc would. This is not as confusing as it may appear, as the ‘two-bounce’ rule was written into the Rules of Tennis in 1988 and allows wheelchair and non-disabled players to integrate and play against and alongside each other on a recreational and competition basis, with the wheelchair player(s) allowed two bounces and their non-disabled peers allowed the usual one bounce.
Cross and McCarroll took an early lead, but Hewett & Reid fought back to level up the match and force a tiebreak, this was close, but it was the experienced doubles pairing that edged to victory 7-6(9). There was only the one set played.
In the final match of the event, an interesting mixed doubles match took place. Shuker & Whiley teamed up for this and were against Hunt & McCarroll. The first set was very tight, with Shuker & Whiley finally making the breakthrough to seal the set. In the second set Hunt & McCarroll were outplayed as Shuker & Whiley dominated and ended with a straight sets 7-5, 6-1 victory.
The Brits now head off to New York to take part in the US Open.
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