14 - 17 December

Wheelchair Team Battle

National Tennis Centre

Wheelchair Team Battle 2020 - Day 1: Breakwell's double unable to prevent The Knights taking early lead

  • 15/12/2020

  • News

Abbie Breakwell made it two wins from her two singles matches on Tuesday’s opening day of the Wheelchair Team Battle, but it was not enough to prevent her Lionhearts team from trailing The Knights 4-3 at the National Tennis Centre. 

With three players from the LTA’s Wheelchair National Age Group Programme on court for the first two singles matches, Breakwell secured a 6-2, 6-1 win over Greg Slade to earn an early point for the Lionhearts, before returning to court 90 minutes later to live up to her team name. 

Facing fellow former National School Games gold medallist Ruby Bishop, Breakwell forged into a 3-1 first set lead before Bishop recovered strongly to take the next five games, converting her second set point.

Breakwell raced though the second set and took a healthy 5-1 lead in the deciding match tie-break., However, Bishop fought back from 8-4 down to earn the first match point, only to follow it with a double fault That handed the momentum back to Breakwell, who closed out a tense 3-6, 6-1, (11-9) victory.

With action on two courts, Court 1 opened with two-time US Open quad singles champion Andy Lapthorne facing 15-year-old Dahnon Ward, who was recently named the inaugural winner of the ITF’s Junior Player of the Year Award. Ward showed plenty of star quality as he broke Lapthorne to take a 3-2 lead, but with Lapthorne playing his first match since Roland Garros he took the next seven games without reply and wrapped up a 6-3, 6-3 victory as his experience earned the first point for The Knights.

After the match Ward reflected on the opportunity to go head-to-head with the world's best players. "He's won the US Open, so playing against top players like that is a good experience. It could have been better, but there were glimpses of a potential win there. I think,  as the week goes on, I'll find my range.”

“It’s great the LTA have been able to put an event on for us right before Christmas and it’s good preparation for my pre-season and looking forward to Australia, it’s a great opportunity to play matches," said Lapthorne.

The Knights and the Lionhearts shared the first four singles matches of the week after Antony Cotterill took a 6-1, 6-3 win over fellow quad division player Richard Green.

But no sooner were the scores level, than another deciding match tie-break saw the Lionhearts snatch the lead as Britain’s top two ranked junior boys, Ben Bartram and Ward, got the chance to partner two-time Paralympic doubles bronze medallists Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker.

Bartram and Whiley capitalised on an early 3-0 lead to take the opening set, but Ward and Shuker produced the more consistent tennis to build on a 4-1 second set lead and force the decider.  

There was no more than one point between either doubles partnership during the match tie-break, until Ward knocked a forehand into the net to give Bartram and Whiley match point and another forehand error from Ward handed Bartram and Whiley an epic 6-4, 4-6, (10-8) victory.

Shuker however could not have been more proud of the way her partner performed. “It’s an honour to play with the juniors, the balls that they are striking are incredible at times," she said.

"There’s been a good atmosphere and a good energy amongst all the players, I think everyone is enjoying being back and playing competitive tennis again.” 

With The Knights leading 3-2, James Shaw and Dermot Bailey ensured a grand stand finale to the opening day’s play as they faced Cotterill and Lapthorne. 

Four players who have all been part of Great Britain gold medal-winning teams at the World Team Cup gave live stream viewers another treat, Cotterill and Lapthorne showing the kind of form that has previously seen them become Doubles Masters champions in the quad division as they recovered from a set and 2-0 down to force yet another deciding match tie-break.

However, despite earning a 5-3 lead in the match tie-break Cotterill and Lapthorne’s fortunes started to wane and despite them saving one match point they eventually lost out to Shaw and Bailey  6-2, 2-6, (10-6) as Lapthorne’s efforts to retrieve a looping forehand proved fruitless.

Seven matches scheduled for the opening day promised that either The Knights or the Lionhearts would end the day with a lead. And fans were given a real treat as Alfie Hewett, Lucy Shuker, Gordon Reid and Jordanne Whiley paired up for a mixed doubles that promised much and did not disappoint. 

Whiley wrapped up the opening set with an ace and the final rally of the match produced the kind of breath-taking tennis that fans had been able to enjoy throughout. But Shuker ultimately found the net with a volley to give Reid and Whiley a 7-5, 6-3 win and The Knights a 4-3 lead heading into Wednesday’s second day play, when the men’s singles contest between Hewett and Reid is among the featured matches.