Mark Langeveld and Caroline MacDonald took the men’s and women’s singles titles as 42 players, including 16 in the junior singles, lined up for the first ROMA Sport National Wheelchair Tennis Series tournament of 2017 in Loughborough over the weekend.
A record entry for any Tennis Foundation domestic wheelchair tennis tournament outside of the National Championships gathered at the Dan Maskell Tennis Centre on the University of Loughborough campus, where days earlier the Tennis Foundation and ROMA Sport had announced a new partnership to boost grassroots participation in wheelchair tennis with the launch of new affordable tennis wheelchair.
Second seed Langeveld, winner of last year’s National Series event at London’s Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, worked his way through the bottom half of the men’s singles draw with relative ease, winning all his matches in straight sets.
Philip Field joined the top three seeds in the semi-finals after beating fourth seed Nick King 6-0, 6-0. Whereas Langeveld ended Field’s progress 6-2, 6-1, the other semi-final proved to be much closer. Ben Johnson-Rolfe defeated top seed Geoff Ellis 6-2, 3-6, (10-8) and went on to take Langeveld to a deciding match tie-break, too, but Langeveld ultimately had the final say to win 4-6, 6-2, (10-4).
The two singles finalists also joined forces to win the men’s doubles, Johnson-Rolfe and Langeveld taking the final against Ellis and Jeff Youell 6-4, 6-0.
Deena Webster secured the most notable of the first round wins in the women’s singles, beating second seed Debbie Brazier 6-3, 3-6, (11-9). But Webster could go no further than the semi-finals and MacDonald moved through to the final 6-1, 6-2. Meanwhile, Helen Bond maintained her hopes of also following up on victory at Lee Valley last November. However, having reached the final in straight sets, Bond lost out to MacDonald 6-2, 6-3.
Bond also reached the women’s doubles final, partnering Brazier. However, that title proved elusive, too, as Suzanne Edwards and Jessica Webb completed a 6-1, 2-6, (10-5) victory after yet another deciding match tie-break.
Nine players set out in pursuit of victory in the Novice singles, beginning their competition in three round-robin pools of three players. Alexander De Styrcea and Nick Smith both claimed crucial deciding match tie-breaks in one of their early round-robin pools as they joined Sarah Tilman in advancing to the final selection of three players.
After winning her first two round-robin matches in straight sets, Tilman went on to defeat Smith 6-2, 6-1 and De Styrcea 7-5, 6-2 to earn the Novice singles title. Tilman also added victory in the Novice doubles. She teamed up with Tabitha Fung to secure a remarkable turnaround in their fortunes and beat Matt Hickling and Paul McDerby 1-6, 7-6(5), (11-9).
Lilly Folland won a marathon deciding match tie-break against Lewis Evans 15-13 as the junior singles got underway. Meanwhile, Abbie Breakwell beat Megan Bradley 4-0, 4-0 in the quarter-finals, in a rematch of last year’s National School Games girls’ singles final. Breakwell went on to reach the final after dropping just three games throughout her first three matches. With Alex Chaston making his way to the final in the bottom half of the draw after ending Folland’s progress in the quarter-finals, he was the only player to deny Breakwell. Chaston went on to win the final 4-1, 4-0.
Chaston again got the better of Breakwell in the junior doubles when he partnered Lewis Evans to edge out Bradley and Breakwell 3-5, 4-2, (10-4) in the semi-finals. That set up an all-boys final, but this time Chaston and Evans were unable to complete victory as Joshua Johns and Dahnon Ward snatched a second set tie-break and then the deciding match tie-break to prevail 3-5, 5-4(5), (10-7).
Three-time Paralympian David Phillipson visited the tournament to inspire the players and present the prizes.