British number ones Gordon Reid and Lucy Shuker showed off their wheelchair tennis skills on court with Deaflympians Catherine and Lewis Fletcher.
Reid, who is currently at a career high No.4 world ranking, teamed up with Catherine Fletcher for some mixed doubles with the wheelchair players allowed an extra bounce in line with ITF rules for the sport.
Lewis Fletcher was on Paralympic bronze medallist Shuker’s side of the court as the foursome played a 20-minute exhibition match following the women’s singles final at Edgbaston Priory Club, which was won by Daniela Hantuchova as she defeated 16-year-old Donna Vekic 7-6(5), 6-4.
Husband and wife duo Cathy and Lewis were both selected for the Great Britain Deaflympic team last week for the upcoming Games in Sofia, Bulgaria in July and enjoyed playing in front of a home crowd.
“It was great fun to play in front of the crowd at the Aegon Classic today and they seemed to really enjoy seeing a different version of tennis than they are used to,” said Catherine, who was recently appointed the Tennis Foundation’s Deaf Tennis Coach.
“We just want to spread the word about deaf tennis as much as possible, both for people to start watching it more and also for deaf people who might not have thought about playing it before. I’d really encourage people just to give it a go as it’s so much fun and has brought so much to our lives,” added Lewis, who will competing at his second Deaflympics in Sofia.
Fresh from competing on the clay courts at Roland Garros, both Reid and Shuker will also compete in the doubles event at The Championships, Wimbledon after gaining direct entry with their respective partners Maikel Scheffers and Marjolein Buis.
“I enjoyed being back in front of a home crowd for the first time since the Paralympics last summer and it’s great to have the opportunity to play at events like the Aegon Classic and keep raising awareness of wheelchair tennis,” said Reid, who reached his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros in the doubles event.
“It was actually nice preparation for Wimbledon to have a hit on a such a lovely grass court at Edgbaston and I’m looking forward to getting back on grass at SW19 in a few weeks,” added Shuker, who reached the final of the doubles event at Wimbledon last year.
“This is an exciting time for disability tennis in the Midlands as we’ve got lots of activity going on with the Tennis Foundation and it was great to be able to show some of our most talented players here at the Aegon Classic today,” added Dave Hillier, the Tennis Foundation’s Disability Development Tennis Manager.
“There is a lot of hard work being done across the country as part of the Tennis Foundation’s disability tennis networks as we look to provide more opportunities for disabled people to have fun playing tennis.”