Penney, Dutfield-Horton and Cox lead champions at LTA Wheelchair Tennis National Finals
• 3 MINUTE READ
Andrew Penney, Fay Dutfield-Horton and Gary Cox sealed the men’s, women’s and quad singles titles over the weekend at the LTA Wheelchair Tennis National Finals. The three stars were amongst five of six singles champions crowned at The Shrewsbury Club to add doubles titles during the four-day event as the domestic wheelchair tennis season came to a close.
Hampshire 18 year-old Penney became the latest player to win back-to-back men’s singles titles at the National Finals, lifting the singles crown for the loss of just three game throughout the weekend and beating third seed Tony Heslop 6-1, 6-0 in Sunday’s final.
Runner-up in the men’s singles and winner in men’s doubles in Loughborough in April as the domestic calendar of LTA Wheelchair Tennis National Series events began, Penney also added his second men’s doubles title of 2022 partnering Leicestershire’s Mark Langeveld to end a season that has largely focused on international competition. Penney and Langeveld dropped just one game in three matches in Shrewsbury, beating West Midlands duo John Lambert and Scott Smith 6-0, 6-1 in the final.
Penney, whose focus for much of 2022 has been on international competition, said: “I’m so happy with my singles and doubles wins. It’s a great end to the year. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone for all the work behind the scenes to make these events possible and a huge shout out to Ed the referee and tournament director Sophie.”
Cornwall’s Dutfield-Horton, who only took up wheelchair tennis in 2017 at the age of 42, beat tournament newcomer Natalia Bedkowska 6-1, 6-3 to become women’s singles champion at the National Finals for the first time. For Liverpool-based Bedwowska, who grew up enjoying playing tennis in her native Poland, her first wheelchair tennis tournament on the domestic LTA calendar included a 4-6, 6-3, 10-3 semi-final victory over top seed and 2012 National Finals winner Debbie Brazier to ensure that her first tournament was a memorable experience.
Dutfield-Horton partnered Worcestershire’s Naomie Tarver to win the women’s doubles, giving the new women’s singles champion her second National Finals women’s doubles title since 2019.
She said: “It’s never too late to begin your wheelchair tennis journey. Age is just a number. I'm overwhelmed and I'm still trying to come to terms with it. I've exceeded every expectation this year because this is only my fifth tournament for 2022, so for 2023 I’m just going to keep working hard and hopefully I’ll be back next year to defend the title.”
While Penney won his second successive men’s singles title and Dutfield-Horton sealed her first women’s singles title, Northampton’s Cox earned his third National Finals quad singles title since 2018 after dropping just three games and beating Scott Smith, winner of the men’s singles title back in 2012, 6-1, 6-0.
Cox, who won his first international title in quad singles, for players whose disability affects three or more limbs, at the LTA’s Abingdon Futures event in October, added the National Finals title in quad doubles partnering Worcestershire’s Dan Pennington-Bridges. Cox said:
“Played some really good tennis and I’ve had one of the best years, nationally, that I’ve every had as I also managed to win a couple of the National Series titles in Grantham and at Lee Valley against players who compete in the men’s open division, so it’s really good preparation for playing in more international tournaments when you’re playing against higher ranked and strong quad players I’m looking forward to playing all the British world ranking tournaments in 2023 and trying to get away to play some ITF Futures events.”
With LTA Nationals Series tournaments and the National Finals catering for players of all abilities and age and experience levels, winners across the weekend included Norfolk 12-year-old Scarlett Walker and 15-year-old Yorkshire player Lucas Town, who won the Under 18 girls’ and boys’ singles, while Town also added the Under 18 doubles.
Walker ends her first full season as a wheelchair tennis player having won a mixed doubles gold medal at the School Games National Finals in September and the girls’ singles title in Shrewsbury, where she wrapped up all three of her round-robin matches in straight sets and defeated runner-up Lilly Folland 4-0, 4-3(6).
Town also eased to the boy’s singles title without dropping a set, beating Wil Barton 4-2, 4-0 in the title decider. Gloucestershire’s Barton and Town then teamed up to win all four of their doubles matches, claiming the Under 18 doubles title for the loss of just four games.
Lancashire’s Zak Corbishley joined Penney, Dutfield-Horton, Cox and Town in leaving Shrewsbury with two titles apiece after the 19-year won both the novice singles and doubles events. Corbishley edged two deciding match tie-breaks in his four novice singles round-robin matches, beating runner-up Tracy Vallance 3-6, 6-4, (10-5) to seal victory before partnering West Sussex’s Nathan Freeman to win the novice doubles after a 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Vallance and Michael Hall.
As the National Finals brought an end to the LTA’s domestic calendar of wheelchair tennis tournaments for 2022, the LTA’s annual National Series Awards presented during the weekend included awards for men’s and women’s singles and doubles points accrued during the year. Tony Heslop won the men’s singles award for 2022 after a season that included tournament wins for the South Wales player in Wrexham, Shrewsbury and Glasgow, while Oxfordshire’s Oliver Cox won the men’s doubles award.
Naomie Tarver, winner of the women’s doubles title at the National Finals alongside Fay Dutfield-Horton, won the women’s singles award for the National Series after her season included women’s singles titles in Newport and Leeds, while Newport’s Debbie Brazier earned the women’s doubles award.
Warwickshire’s Vasileios Takis won the Val Fisher Award for Novice Player of the Year, named in memory of Shropshire’s Val Fisher, a hugely popular player and pioneer of wheelchair tennis in the county, who passed away in 2021.