There were four wins from six matches for players on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme as the Rio 2016 Paralympic Tennis Event got underway.
Under grey skies in Rio, Alfie Hewett, Marc McCarroll and David Phillipson all moved into the second round of the men’s singles, while Andy Lapthorne booked his place in Saturday’s quad singles quarter-finals.
Eighteen-year-old Hewett made a sensational Paralympic Games debut, defeating Malaysia’s Abu Samah Borhan 6-0, 6-1. He goes on to play Sri Lankan Upali Rakakaruna for a place in the round of 16.
Hewett said: “That was pretty much a perfect start to my Paralympic debut and the match went exactly how I planned. But I’ve proved this year that in my transition from being junior world number one I can pretty much beat anyone and I’m not here to make up the numbers, I think I can go far.”
McCarroll battled back from 3-0 down to gain the crucial break of serve at the end of the opening set of his match against Italy’s Fabian Mazzei. He then built a comfortable second set cushion to win his first Paralympic singles match in his second Games 7-5, 6-3.
McCarroll now faces a tough test in Belgian second seed Joachim Gerard in the second round.
“I had the pressure of not having won a Paralympic singles match before and with lots of GB support in the stands I did feel the pressure a bit to start with. But once I took the first set I felt more comfortable and although he kept coming back at me, I found a way to win in the end, even if it did take a few match points,” said McCarroll.
David Phillipson also plays seeded opposition for a place in the third round of the men’s singles after beating Philippe Bedard of Canada 6-0, 6-1. Phillipson next takes on London 2012 silver medallist and world No. 1 Stephane Houdet of France.
Meanwhile in the quad singles Andy Lapthorne laid to bed the ghosts of London 2012, where he lost in the first round, with a straight sets win over Italy’s Alberto Corradi.
Lapthorne will now face Australia’s Heath Davidson for a place in the semi-finals of the singles.
He said: “I feel like I’ve really exorcised some demons after losing in the first round at London 2012. I felt gutted for Jamie and Antony losing earlier and I really want to do well for the quads and put our division on the map and show how good it is. I know Jamie will bounce back ready for the doubles and we’ll be ready to take on the world’s best.”
There was disappointment for Britain’s two other quad players in the singles with Jamie Burdekin and Antony Cotterill losing after tight matches.
Burdekin faced Brazilian favourite Ymanitu Silva. With a noisy home crowd behind him, Silva took the first set 6-2. However, Burdekin battled back to force a decider. Silva made an excellent start to the final set, leading 3-0 and Burdekin could never claw back the deficit, eventually bowing out 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.
On his Paralympic debut Antony Cotterill faced American Nick Taylor for a place in the quarter finals. Despite a strong fight from Cotterill, which included leading the second set 4-2, he eventually went down 6-3, 7-6(5).
Britain’s women get their campaigns underway tomorrow with Jordanne Whiley, Lucy Shuker and Louise Hunt all in action. Lapthorne will also play for a place in the quad semi-finals, while Phillipson and McCarroll get their doubles campaign underway.
Read the full draws on the Rio 2016 Paralympics website.