In December 2015, Support through Sport UK’s Claire and Rhian covered the latter part of the Wheelchair Tennis Masters ...
Rhian and I travelled to the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre at the Olympic Park for the tournament finals.
First up was the men’s final between reigning champion Shingo Kunieda (from Japan) and Joachim Gerad of Belgium. Kunieda had been having a strong tournament and was the favourite to win the title. However, underdog Gerad wasn’t going to go down without a fight …
The world class tennis that ensued kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. The momentum swung from player to player, but Gerad was the ultimate victor with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 win. Gerad’s victory put an end to Kunieda’s 77 match winning streak and gave Gerad his first ever Masters title.
The women’s final saw reigning world champion Jiske Griffioen take on Sabine Ellerbrook. Having seen Griffioen win the British Open Doubles Title earlier in the year, I knew how competitive and hungry for success she was. Once again she didn’t disappoint, taking down Ellerbrook 6-2, 6-2; a fantastic end to another fantastic year.
The day ended with the Quads final. World Number One David Wagner was looking to claim yet another title … but standing in his way was Lucas Sithole. The match was incredible; both men bringing individual playing styles to the game and hitting with class and strength. Having spoken to Wagner earlier in the year, he had expressed how keen he was to qualify for Rio. He spoke about how the competition was getting tougher and tougher each year, with more and more talented youngsters coming up through the ranks. However, to counter this, he resolved to up his game. And he delivered, taking the title 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.
Wheelchair tennis is rapidly becoming one of my favourite sports. I love the pace of the game, the talent that’s on display and the great sportsmanship.