Great Britain win silver and bronze at the 2018 Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup

Great Britain win silver and bronze at the 2018 Wheelchair Tennis World Team Cup

Great Britain claimed two medals on the final day of action at the 2018 Wheelchair Tennis World Cup. The GB women’s team overcame France to win bronze, but there was disappointment for the men as the favourites fell to Japan in a high quality encounter.

Despite the disappointment, the medals cap a successful week for the British team, one of only two nations alongside hosts the Netherlands to have teams playing in all four of the men’s, women’s, quads and junior competitions.

Japan too good for GB men

The British men had gone in to Sunday’s final looking to claim a second ever World Team Cup title to add to their maiden win in 2015. The favourites and top seeds had not lost a match en route to the final, seeing off Spain, Poland, China and Belgium. The Final against Japan was never going to be easy, with the opponents also having two top 10 ranked players, and so it proved as the second seeds won both singles matches to take the gold medal.

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Gordon Reid won the first set of the day in the opening rubber, and despite a fightback from Takashi Sanada to win the second from 3-1 down, had looked in control at 5-2 up in the decider. Some outstanding tennis saw Sanada turn the match and the tie on its head as he won the next five games to take the match 2-6 6-3 7-5.

Speaking after the match, Reid said:

“For the majority of the match I played well, and controlled the match. In the third set I got a little bit tired, and to be fair to him he played much better tennis towards the end. Today was the only real tough challenge I have had all week.

“I am happy with where I am right now and feel pretty confident before next week (at Roland Garros).”

Sanada’s win meant Britain’s hopes of taking the title rested on Alfie Hewett beating Shingo Kunieda to level the tie and take it into a deciding doubles rubber. Despite Hewett playing some of his best tennis in patches, he never quite managed to take control of the match. Kunieda was simply exceptional throughout, taking the match and the title for Japan with a 6-2 6-3 win.

Hewett said:

“Ultimately I wasn’t consistent enough, especially on the big points. Shingo played a very very solid and attacking game, I felt he probably deserved it more than me. But there are still a lot of positives to take. The way I have been hitting the ball this week has been a big confidence boost.

“Obviously we are disappointed to get the silver again, we really really wanted to get the gold but were just beaten by the better players.”

Women claim brilliant bronze

Earlier in Apeldoorn, Great Britain’s women’s team had claimed the bronze medal with a 2-0 win over fourth seeds France. Louise Hunt came through a first set tie-break to defeat Emmanuelle Morch 7-6(2) 6-4. Hunt was followed on court by Great Britain’s No.1 Lucy Shuker, who demolished World No. 12 Charlotte Famin with a clinical performance to prevail 6-0 6-1 and secure the bronze medal without the need for the doubles rubber.

The women, who had finished top of their group without dropping a rubber in wins against Thailand and the USA, had come close to reaching the final by taking defending champions China to a deciding doubles match in Friday’s semi-final.

Commenting after the play-off win over France, Hunt said:

“I am really happy to have won a bronze this week with Lucy and Lauren (Jones). I thought we gelled well as a team, with everyone contributing.”

Speaking after winning her first World Team Cup medal as a senior, Jones added:

“It’s been a great experience. I think we all performed really well. I am happy with my individual performance and glad I could do my bit for the team.”

Quads – defending champions miss out on a medal

Earlier in the week, hopes the British quad team of Andy Lapthorne, Antony Cotterill and James Shaw could emulate their 2017 World Team Cup title win were ended with a 2-0 semi-final defeat by Australia. They then missed out on a medal, losing by the same margin to the USA to finish fourth.

Juniors show future promise

The British junior team at the World Team Cup this year featured three players making their debut, with Ben Bartram, Abbie Breakwell and Dahnon Ward joining Alex Chaston to form a quartet full of promise. Despite their limited experience on the international stage, all four showed enough to suggest there will be more matches for them to come at this level.

The highlight of the week was the impressive Ward’s 5-7 6-3 6-4 victory over Australia’s world No.8 Riley Dumsday in the group stages. The team finished with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Malaysia to finish 7th overall.