Heartbreak for British hopes
PUBLISHED: 12:14 05 December 2015 | UPDATED: 12:14 05 December 2015
Quartet miss out at NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters
There was heartbreak for the British contingent at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters tournament at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London.
All four British players - Gordon Reid, Jordanne Whiley, Lucy Shuker and Andy Lapthorne - went into their final round-robin matches with a chance of qualifying for the televised knock-out stages.
The semi-finals and finals of the International Tennis Federation’s season-ending showcase will be shown on the BBC’s Red Button service and via the BBC website. But none of the British hopes will be able to chase for glory, after Reid had to watch from the sidelines as his chance of reaching the last four was snatched away by able Frenchman Stephane Houdet, whose last gasp 6-2 2-6 6-4 win over the already qualified Nicolas Peifer allowed him to finish second in the group ahead of Reid – by the narrowest of margins.
Reid had battled his way to a 2-6 6-3 6-2 victory over Maikel Scheffers, but the Scotsman’s slow start cost him dear.
With Reid and Houdet tied on two wins and one loss apiece, Houdet progressed because his percentage of games won was 0.1 per cent higher in all three group matches than Reid’s.
“When I lost the second set I was doing lots of calculations in my head and I really thought my chance was over,” said Houdet.
“Later in the match I looked up and saw Gordon up on the balcony watching and he didn’t look happy, so then I thought ‘oh, maybe it’s not over’. It’s very special to be in the semi-finals. It just goes to show you should never give up.”
Shuker put up a spirited performance to push top seed Jiske Griffionen before succumbing 7-6 6-3, but it was not enough to see her reach the last four.
“I think I played some of my best tennis against Jiske, which I had to do because she’s world number one for a reason. As much as I’m disappointed it’s promising to see where I am.
“I am the most disabled girl on the Tour and I just went up against the world number one, who’s very able, so it just good to show what I can do.”
London-based Whiley suffered a 6-3 6-4 defeat to Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock and admitted that the pressure of the situation had got to her.
“I wanted to qualify for the semi-finals really badly and I let that pressure get to me,” said the reigning US Open singles champion.
“I didn’t feel like I could bring my own game. I think these nerves got the better of me. All these girls have really good games and if I’m not on it then I can’t really really compete to the level that I want to compete at.
“I just couldn’t get rid of the nerves. I was training really hard to get ready for this tournament because it was really important, but maybe that was too big a focus.”
Londoner Lapthorne rounded off a rough day for the home players when he was edged out 6-2 4-6 6-3 to miss out on a place in Sunday’s Quad final against American David Wagner.
Fixtures, women’s semi-finals: Jiske Griffioen (NED) vs Aniek Van Koot (NED); Marjolen Buis (NED) vs Sabine Ellerbrock (NED).
Men’s semi-finals: Joachim Gerard (BEL) vs Stephane Houdet (FRA); Shingo Kunieda (JPN) vs Nicolas Peifer (FRA).
Quad Final: David Wagner (USA) vs Lucas Sithole (RSA).
The NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters will be broadcast on BBC red button service on Saturday and Sunday.