Great Britain’s men claim wheelchair tennis World Team Cup title
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Great Britain’s men’s wheelchair tennis team became world champions on Saturday after winning the BNP Paribas World Team Cup title, beating France 2-0 in the final.
Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid both produced sensational straight sets victories in Ramat Hasharon, Israel, to claim what is Britain’s second ever men’s title.
The success of the British men’s team of Hewett, Reid and Dermot Bailey follows on from the silver medal won by the Great Britain junior team and the bronze medal won by the women’s team on Friday. Together with the quad team’s fourth place finish, the results make this Britain’s best ever performance at a World Team Cup in the event’s 35 year history.
The World Team Cup is held on an annual basis and is the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event – the wheelchair tennis equivalent of the Fed Cup and Davis Cup competitions. Teams from 23 nations qualified to compete in this year’s finals.
Players in the 14-strong British squad for the tournament are part of the LTA’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Performance Programme.
Saturday’s victory for the men’s team had more than an air of familiarity about it, with Hewett and Reid also having won both singles rubbers against France when Great Britain won the title for the very first time in 2015. This time both players produced clinical first set performances before holding on in their respective second sets, Reid beating Nicolas Peifer 6-1, 7-6(3) before Hewett defeated world No.3 Stephane Houdet 6-0, 7-5.
The British team’s medal collection from the event had started on Friday. Britain’s promising junior team of Dahnon Ward, Gregory Slade, Ben Bartram and Ruby Bishop had been hoping to win gold to add to the two previous titles won by teams featuring Hewett in 2013 and Reid in 2007. Despite showing tremendous fighting spirit in what was a gripping final against Australia, the team had to settle for silver as doubles pairing Bartram and Ward eventually succumbed 14-12 in the deciding match tie break.
Earlier in the day, the women’s team won bronze against South Africa to claim Britain’s first medal of the event. Jordanne Whiley defeated Mariska Venter 6-4 6-1 in the opening singles, with Lucy Shuker sealing the win after staging a second set comeback before her opponent Kgothatso Montjane retired injured in the third with the score at 4-5 6-1 1-2.
This meant Great Britain were the only nation at the event to have teams reach the semi-final stage in all four World Team Cup events.
Who said what?
Reigning US Open champion Alfie Hewett said:
“The last couple of years have been tough for us. We have a great team and we have the potential to win it every single time, but we haven’t pulled through those finals in the last two years. We didn’t lose a singles match the whole week and that just shows how high our level has been. That first set for me today was probably the best set of tennis I’ve ever played. But it’s not just one performance that wins the title and it was a top performance from Gordon today and Dermot’s played some really good matches too.”
“It really shows the great work the LTA have done to be able to develop not just a good men's team, but a good quad team, a good women's team and a good junior team. You can’t don well at this event with just one good player in a team. That’s why every year we are in and around the medals now.”
Rio Paralympic champion Gordon Reid said:
“It feels great. It’s been a long time since the last one and we’ve come close a couple of time since, so it’s amazing to get over the line today and to do it in convincing style, too. Nico wasn’t really giving me any rhythm today and was pretty unpredictable, so I was happy with how I moved around court and how I approached it, how I focussed and how I stepped it up towards the end.”
Great Britain's Ben Bartram said:
“I’m proud of what the team have achieved but it would have been a lot nicer to have a gold medal around my neck. We should have won it but we played the best we could and just didn’t get it today.”
British No.1 Lucy Shuker said:
“I think the team did really well this week, on court and off court. I was disappointed yesterday with the result against Japan [in the semi-final], but today we got to go again for bronze. Jordy had a good win, and then I had a close first set and played a really good second set. Unfortunately she [Montjane] had to retire, but I wish her well and hope she recovers.”