Not even the heavy snow that brought disruption across the country last weekend could dampen the enthusiasm and fun had by all at The Shrewsbury Club as Marc McCarroll, Lauren Jones, Richard Green and Asif Abbasi took the senior titles at the 2017 National Wheelchair Tennis Championships and Roma Sport National Wheelchair Tennis Series Finals.
With Gregory Slade and Megan Bradley winning the two divisions of junior singles, there were opportunities aplenty for players of all ages and abilities across the three days of competition, which included a series of fun doubles matches mixing the players from the various championship events.
Three Paralympians contested the men’s singles as Kevin Simpson, McCarroll and defending champion David Phillipson, who have combined experience of three Paralympics between them, eased through to the last four, Simpson having started his challenge by defeating 2015 National champion and top seed Dermot Bailey 6-2, 2-6, (10-7). They were joined in the semi-finals by Mark Langeveld, whose early successes in 2017 included winning the first two Roma Sport National Series events of the year in Loughborough and Warwick.
McCarroll and Phillipson wasted little time in booking their places in the final after beating Simpson and Langeveld respectively, but the final proved much tougher for both players as McCarroll clinched a thrilling 6-7(3), 6-0, (12-10) victory.
With McCarroll and Phillipson having both announced their intentions to move away from elite level wheelchair tennis competition earlier this year, they added another title to their impressive collection of domestic and international successes and showed the benefit of their experience with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Simpson and one of the players Simpson coaches, Ruairi Logan, in the men’s doubles final.
Invictus Games silver medallist Cornelia Oosthuizen and 2016 National Championships finalist Caroline MacDonald both opened their women’s singles campaigns by winning deciding match tie-breaks 10-6 in the bottom half of the draw. Fay Dutfield-Horton, who has ambitions to be selected for a future Invictus Games, defeated Oosthuizen in the quarter-finals, but MacDonaald’s greater experience saw her through to the final.
Meanwhile, top seed and 2015 a 2016 champion Jones dropped just four games in her first two matches in the top half of the draw. That set up a rematch of last year’s final, a contest that Jones won 6-3, 6-3. This time she needed one game less, beating MacDonald 6-3, 6-2 to complete a hat-trick of National singles crowns.
Twelve months on from Jones partnering Jessica Webb to win the women’s doubles National title, as Webb became a National Champion for the first time, the two players were on opposite sides of the net in this year’s final. And it was Jones who claimed another title after teaming up with Suzanne Edwards to beat MacDonald and Webb 6-3, 6-2.
Green’s biggest challenge in the quad singles came in the very first round of matches on the first morning of competition as he met 2015 and 2016 champion James Shaw in the first of three round-robin matches for both players. Green beat Shaw 6-4, 3-6, (10-3) after a deciding match tie-break. That ultimately proved to be the crucial result as Green went on to drop just two more games across his next two matches against George Davies and Alex de Styrcea, with Shaw winning both his subsequent matches 6-0.
Green left Shrewsbury with both the singles and doubles National titles for the first time after partnering Davies to beat de Styrcea and Shaw 7-6(3), 6-3 in the quad doubles decider.
A magnificent entry for the junior singles and doubles events resulted in two divisions of singles competition. The six players in Division 1 contested two round-robin pools of three players. The top two players went through to the final, with Gregory Slade finishing the event unbeaten following his 5-3, 4-1 victory over Great Britain World Team Cup junior team member Alex Chaston.
The girls got the better of the boys in Division 2 of the junior singles as Megan Bradley and Ellie Robertson advanced to the final, Bradley doing so after a tense 5-3, 4-5(5), (10-8) semi-final victory over Joshua Johns in a match tie-break. The final again proved to be close, but Bradley emerged strongest once more to win 5-4(4), 5-3.
Chaston and Slade won through to the junior doubles final with ease to face Johns and Dahnon Ward, Slade adding the doubles title to his junior singles title when he and Chaston prevailed 5-3, 4-2.
With a hat-trick of Roma Sport National Wheelchair Tennis Series main draw titles to his name during the year, Asif Abbasi once again impressed as he took the main draw title in the season finale.
As the bumper 16-player draw got underway Kevin Lewis and Manoj Somasundaram both recovered from dropping their opening sets of the weekend 6-3 to win their first round contests in deciding match tie-breaks. However, both players bowed out in the last eight, beaten in straight sets by Abbasi and Invictus Games gold medallist Kevin Drake. Abbasi went on to earn a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Drake in the semi-finals.
In the bottom half of the draw Philip Fielding, a multiple National Series semi-finalist and finalist during the year, made impressive and relentless progress to another final. However, after two straight sets wins Fielding found Abbasi more than his equal as the latter claimed the National Series Finals victory 6-4, 6-1.
Honours were reversed in the Roma Sport National Series Finals men’s doubles as Abbasi and Somasundaram lined up against Fielding and Keith Thom, whose combined talents took them to a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
Tabitha Fung earned victory in the National Series novice singles after two victories over Nicholas King in successive deciding match tie-breaks. Fung first made a stirring recovery from near-defeat to edge King 4-6, 7-6(2), (10-5), but the following day she made a much better start before wrapping up a 6-2, 3-6, (10-8) victory.
The novice doubles was also decided in a match tie-break as Dutfield-Horton and Deena Webster gained a narrow 6-1, 3-6, (10-8) victory over Fung and Oosthuizen.