In this weekly feature we’ll round up the results from our British wheelchair tennis stars competing around the globe.
Knokke Zoute Junior Roller Open
There was no shortage of events during week 15 but Brits were hard to come by. Just three graced the court, all competing in the Knokke Zoute Junior Roller Open in Belgium. Luz Esperanza Merry was in action in a small girls draw whilst Ruairi Logan and Josh Cooper took part in an irritatingly sized nine draw in the boys event.
In the girls event it was a small but competitive field of four headed by Merry. The highest ranked player won all three of her round-robin matches to set up a final with second placed Nalani Buob. In the round-robin stage, Merry had emerged as a 6-2 6-4 victor and the final would be only marginally more challenging. Merry won the trophy with a 6-4 6-4 victory, extending her unbeaten run against Buob to six matches.
Congrats Luz Esperanza Merry, girls' singles winner at the ITF Jnr Series in 🇧🇪 after beating Nalani Buob (SUI) 4&4. pic.twitter.com/yAl8OHrQgN
— Tennis Foundation (@TennisFndation) May 2, 2016
The pair would join forces in the doubles and produce a superb display to triumph in their opening match. However, they were eliminated by top seeded Dutch pair and eventual champions Sam Schroder and Ruben Spaargaren in the semi-finals. The Dutch pair would find themselves facing more Brits in the final, with Josh Cooper and Ruairi Logan facing them down the other side of the net. The Brits got off to a flying start, taking the opener 6-4. However, the Dutch roared back, taking the second set via a bagel before seeing out the deciding tie-break 10-5.
The Dutch proved to be a handful for the Brits all week with Cooper getting eliminated from the semi-final of the singles by Spaargaren 6-0 6-0. Cooper was only in the semi-final after defeating his British compatriot Ruairi Logan in a fascinating encounter. The pair split the first two sets between them but it was Logan who carved out a victory, coming through the DTB 10-4.
ITF 1 Series – Italy
The first week of May saw a number of well-known British names return to court. As a reward for his progressive form in 2016, Alfie Hewitt, was rewarded with a fourth seeding in Italy and looked more than worth his billing. He rolled past his opening two opponents without dropping a game and conceded just five to quarter-final opponent Mike Denayer. Things took a step-up in the semi-final as he found himself against top seed and world number one Stephane Houdet. Hewitt came flying out of the blocks, storming the first set 6-3 on route to what would have been a major upset. Unfortunately though, Houdet’s experience shone through, as he took the next two sets 6-3 6-4 to advance and knock-out Hewitt.
There were echoes of symmetry in the doubles as Hewett, alongside Francesc Tur, once again fell to Houdet in the semi-finals, this time by a walkover.
No women made the short journey over to Italy but Antony Cotterill was in action in the Quads as the second seed. He advanced to the semi-finals as expected along with the other four seeded players. In a uncommon twist for wheelchair events, there was a double upset as fourth seed Bryan Barten beat top seed Itay Erenlib and Cotterill was defeated 6-2 7-5 by third seed Alberto Corradi. The doubles was no more fruitful for Cotterill, as his number one seeding meant nothing. He lost the final alongside Erenlib 0-6 6-4 10-8 to Bryan Barten and Ymanitu Silva.
ITF 3 Series – Romania
British interests were not conformed to Italy though, as a trio of Brits headed down to the Romanian capital, Bucharest. Louise Hunt was the top seed in the ladies draw and, courtesy of a bye, found herself facing British wildcard Lauren Jones in the quarter-final. The world number #11 beat Jones 6-2 6-0 back in March but was made to work harder this time around, only emerging as a 6-2 6-4 victor.
— Louise Hunt (@LouiseHunt1) May 8, 2016
The semi-finals were unsurprisingly made up of the four seeded players and so Hunt was faced with the challenge of the third seeded Lola Ochoa. However, the Spaniard was no match for an in-form Hunt, falling 6-2 6-0. Hunt’s imperious form continued in the final as she recovered from dropping the opening set 7-5 to emerge victorious and claim her second consecutive title. Her final opponent, Kaitlyn Verfuerth, got her revenge in the doubles as she and Busura Un defeated the two Brits 11-9 in the DTB of the final.
Marc Francis was the sole British representative in the men’s draw but suffered a disappointing loss to Romanian qualifier Daniel Danila. Marc was not in doubles action.