14 - 17 December

Wheelchair Team Battle

National Tennis Centre

Wheelchair Team Battle 2020 - Day 2: Lionhearts and The Knights level heading into final day

  • 16/12/2020

  • News

Gordon Reid earned his first victory over Alfie Hewett in singles competition this season with a 6-4, 6-4 win on the second day of the Wheelchair Team Battle, but it was not enough to see The Knights retain the slender one point lead they had over the Lionheart after the first day of competition.

With Hewett having edged their singles contest at the LTA Wheelchair Tennis Series at the NTC in early September 7-5, 7-5, Reid returned the compliment as the world No. 5 built on a 2-0 lead and wrapped up the opening set with unreturnable forehand winner.

The eagerly anticipated contest had all the hallmarks off a classic Hewett-Reid encounter, their international head-to-head at 12 wins apiece demonstrating how closely matched the two Brits are. However, with never more than a game between them throughout the second set, Hewett let slip two unforced errors from either wing to hand Reid another 5-4 lead. And this time it was an unreturnable backhand that got the better of Hewett as Reid took The Knights into a slender 8-7 lead in the penultimate match of the day.

Reid said: “It was a good match, a high level from both of us and I thought I played well especially at the end of the first set, playing aggressive and taking the ball on so I’m really happy with the performance. Alfie is one of the top players in the world, so for us to have to have the opportunities to play against each other is brilliant and it’s even better to have it in a competitive environment like this.”

Earlier in the day Hewett and Reid kicked off the Court 1 action with wins over Britain’s top two ranked juniors, Ben Bartram and Dahnon Ward. Bartram reeled off two games in a row in the second set, but Hewett’s greater power and experience told as he beat his fellow Norfolk player 6-0, 6-2. Meanwhile, Ward earned himself a string of game points against Reid and saved a match point in the final game before the reigning Paralympic champion wrapped up a 6-0, 6-0 win.

There was much better news for 15-year-old Bartram, the world No.2 in the junior boys’ rankings, as he earned a memorable 6-4, 6-2 victory over British women’s No.2  and two-time Paralympic medallist Lucy Shuker, ending an impressive performance with successive forehand down the line winners.

“I would say that's one of my best wins because of how difficult it was and how I kept my head throughout the match and not let Lucy's style of play get to me,” said Bartram. “I think I played very well and was very smart with my tennis, I knew when to play the right shots and it shows that all the hard work is paying off."

However, Ward could not match Bartram’s performance against 12-time Grand Slam champion Jordanne Whiley and despite Ward breaking serve in both sets, Whiley sealed a 6-1, 6-1 win for The Knights.

Whiley said: “It’s good to have a team event where you can mix different divisions especially at the end of the year in the off-season so I’m really enjoying myself. Dahnon’s a really good player but he’s still young and still needs to learn a few things.”

With The Knights having started the second day leading the Lionhearts 4-3, the Lionhearts turned their fortunes around to take a narrow 6-5 lead thanks to former quad singles National champions Richard Green and James Shaw securing successive 6-0, 6-0 and 6-3, 6-2 victories over Ruby Bishop and Greg Slade, respectively. 

Green and Shaw later joined forces to beat Antony Cotteriil and Greg Slade 6-3, 6-3, thereby levelling the team scores again at 7-7 after Bartram and Whiley’s respective victories for The Knights.

After Reid restored The Knights’ advantage with victory over Hewett, the day’s final mixed doubles contest gave Dermot Bailey and Shuker the chance to restore parity for the Lionhearts ahead of Thursday’s third and last day of play. And that’s exactly what they did, wrapping up a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Andy Lapthorne and Whiley.

With The Knights and the Lionhearts level on eight points apiece, Thursday’s third and final day is set for a grandstand finish.