Paralympians compete in Sunderland

The North-East Wheel Chair Tennis Tournament took place in Sunderland last week.

The tournament, which has been upgraded this year to an ITF 2 ranking tournament, was dominated by stars of London 2012 with Team GB Paralympians winning in each of the individual categories.

Gordon Reid was successful in the men’s final and Jordanne Wiley took the women’s title. And in the quads category Jamie Burdekin was the winner.

Tournament Director John Schofield said: “It’s excellent to have some of the top players here and it’s what you’d expect as the tournament has gone up a grade.

“So if you ignore the grand slam of wheelchair tennis, which would be the British Open, then we’re probably the third highest ranked wheelchair tournament in the country which simply means you attract the top players.

“And we’ve got Gordon [Reid] here who is the British number one and world number seven, he is the highest ranked Briton ever in wheelchair tennis,” he added.

Reid was also successful in the doubles final alongside junior world number one Alfie Hewett. And it was a similar story in the women’s doubles with Wiley pairing up with girls’ world number one Lauren Jones to take the crown.

And in the quads doubles Antony Cotterill and Adam Field beat South African pair Bongani Dhlamini and Lucas Sithole in the final.

This is the 18th year the tournament has been held at the Sunderland Tennis Centre which is one of the few clubs in the region with eight indoor courts.

Graham Fowler, Tennis Development Officer at the centre, said: “We’ve run a wheelchair tournament for a number of years but this is the highest quality of tournament that we’ve had.

“And although there’s not many competitors, the ones that we do have are really high quality and most have competed in the Paralympics or represented their countries so it is a good standard.

“I think it’s the first time we’ve had Paralympic medallists who have played here. We do a lot of able bodied tennis events here and we’ve had players who have made the top 50 in the world but we’ve never had anyone who’s won medals at the Olympics or Paralympics.”

One of the competitors who competed in the London Paralympics was Mark McCarroll who reached the quarter-finals of the men’s doubles.

He said: “It’s a great venue; it’s got eight indoor courts which is great. The last time I played here was a couple of years ago and I don’t think they had the majority of the building work done and I’ve come back and it’s a really good facility.

And he also recalled his experience at the games over the summer, saying: “It was a once in a lifetime experience, the crowds were just amazing.

“I didn’t think wheelchair tennis would be sold out but it was sold out every day and to have the home support behind me was unreal.”

The tournament is now funded by the tennis foundation which is a charity aimed at making tennis accessible to everyone in the community.

For more information about wheelchair tennis visit www.itftennis.com/wheelchair.

See this article published online here.

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