Support through Sport UK attended the final day of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters ...
The first match of the day was the men's third place decider between Britain's Gordon Reid and the Dutch player, and world number six, Maikel Scheffers. This was the first live wheelchair tennis that we'd ever seen and we were immediately drawn in by the fast pace of the game. The players' supreme command of their chairs, coupled with the extremely high-level tennis (the only difference to standard tennis being that the ball is allowed to bounce twice), makes wheelchair tennis a seriously good spectator sport.
Reid pulled off a personal best performance to beat Scheffers 6-0, 6-3 and claim third place in the tournament.
Next up was Britain's Jordanne Whiley, who has completed the doubles calendar Grand Slam this year, winning at the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. This women's third place match had an interesting twist as Whiley was up against her Grand Slam winning doubles partner, and current ladies singles world number one, Yoi Kamiji. However Whiley was too strong for Kamiji, beating the Japanese lady for the second time in the tornament 6-3, 6-3.
Third places decided, there was then a demonstration of visually-impaired tennis. The doubles teams who were chosen to showcase the sport used a foam ball that contains a table tennis ball in which there are ball bearings that rattle when the ball strikes the court. This helps the players to know where the ball is. In visually-impaired tennis, just the inner area of the singles court is used and the players are allowed two bounces (or more depending on their levels of sight). One of the players commented that, as the sport progresses, it would be good if the balls could be further developed so that they could make a noise whilst in the air. This would give the players more steer as to the positioning of the ball.
The last two matches of the day were the men's and women's finals, and were won by Aniek Van Koot and current world number one, Shingo Kunida, respectively. Japan's Kuneida kas now won three NEC Masters events and only dropped three games during this year's five-day event.
Wheelchair tennis is fast, tactical, sometimes graceful, sometimes ferocious. If gripping live sport that showcases the peak of physical fitness is your thing, then we thoroughly recommend it.