Support through Sport UK were at both day three and day four of the 2016 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters ...
Similar to the recent ATP Tour Finals - in which Andy Murray came out on top - the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters are the year-end championships for the para-tennis players. The tournament features the top eight mens and womens players in the world and also the top six quads players. There's a round robin format and then it's the knock-out phases.
On day three, Support through Sport UK's Helen and Colin were fortunate to catch an incredibly tight match between Great Britain's Alfie Hewett and number one seed Stephane Houdet. Hewett started incredibly well, breaking in the first game and taking the first set 6-4. Hewett - the 2016 Wimbledon Doubles Champion and Rio Doubles Silver-Medallist with Gordon Reid - kept the momentum going in the second set and took the first two games. However, the Frenchman and world number one then managed to claw his way back into the set and eventually levelled the match. Houdet's experience served him well in the final set, which he closed out 6-2. Whilst Hewett didn't win the match, his performance in the first two sets was exciting and the future is clearly very bright for the British 18-year-old.
In the next match, Britain's Gordon Reid secured his third win in his pool, beating Maikel Scheffers 6-1, 6-2. This put him through to the semi-finals, where he was to face Stephane Houdet.
On day four, Support through Sport UK's Claire covered the tournament.
First up on the centre court was Stephane Houdet versus Gordon Reid. In what was to be a two-set match, the Brit dominated, resisting the very strong attack of Houdet, who won the British Open earlier on in the year. The final score was 6-2 6-1.
On court one, the USA’s David Wagner faced the Korean Kyu-Seung Kim, and Wagner, who was fighting for his ninth Masters, didn’t disappoint. Kim, in his Masters debut, was a strong opponent, but Wagner proved too good and his 6-2 6-1 win secured him a place in the quads final.
Great Britain were then up again on centre court, with Andy Lapthorne facing Israel’s Erinlib. Lapthorne, renowned for his passion, faced a strong, in-form opponent and so unfortunately it wasn't to be his day. He fought hard but Erinlib pushed that little bit harder to win 6-2 6-4 and secure a place in the final against David Wagner.
Next up on centre court, Joachim Gerrard from Belgium faced Stefan Olsson from Sweden. This was, in my opinion, the most exciting match of the day as the players were so evenly-matched. However, it was ultimately Gerrard who came out on top; his 2-6 7-5 6-3 win giving him the opportunity to play for his second Masters title.
Centre court then played host to a Dutch battle: Jiske Griffioen versus the 19-year-old Diede De Groot, in her Masters debut. The youngster was clearly very determined not to go down without a fight against the current champion, but Griffioen’s experience eventually won out and she came through 6-1 6-4.
On court one, Japan’s Kamiji faced the Netherlands' Marjolein Buis. In another match featuring very evenly-matched opponents, it was ultimately Kimiji who pushed just that little bit harder to win 6-2 3-6 6-1 win and secure her place in the final.
Whilst Support through Sport UK weren't sadly there for the final day of the championships, we can report that Joaquim Gerard beat Gordon Reid 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. However, whilst Reid didn't win the tournament, he did become the world number one player - meaning that Britain currently has three world number one tennis players. In the women's tournament, top seed Jiske Griffioen beat Yui Kamiji and, in the quads, the American David Wagner triumphed over Itay Erelib (Britain's Andy Lapthorne made it to the semis after dominating in his round robin pool).