A total of five Brits posted singles victories on the first day of the 1st World Deaf Tennis Championships yesterday at Nottingham Tennis Centre, with Phoebe Suthers, Valerie Copenhagen and Esah Hayat moving into the second round of the women’s singles and men’s singles, respectively, on their senior international debuts.
Suthers made an impressive senior international debut when the 12-year-old beat 18-year-old Russian Anastasiya Grin 6-4, 6-2.
The result demonstrated that Suthers is making significant progress in her young career. She only took up tennis aged eight and started playing deaf tennis two years ago before making her junior international debut at last year’s Youth Deaf Tennis Cup in Hamburg, Germany, where she lost to Grin 6-0, 6-0.
“It was really good today; I didn’t think I’d get through this round so I’m really pleased,” said Suthers. “I played her last year so I knew her tactics; she doesn’t like playing her backhand as much, so I could target that.”
Suthers will play Spanish fourth seed Beatriz Villamandos-Lorenzo next.
Copenhagen also won her first international match, beating Nishtha Dudeja of India 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
“I really enjoyed that and I’m very excited to get through the next round. Today’s win has given me a big confident boost,” said Copenhagen, who now faces German top seed Heike Albrecht.
Current National champion Beth Simmons beat Ukraine’s Viktoria Podhorodetska 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-1 to also move into the second round of the women’s singles, where she will face Chinese Taipei second seed Chiu-Mei Ho.
However, there was not so much success for Bethany Brookes. The former National champion lost her opening match to the talented American player Emily Hangstefer 6-1, 6-1. Brookes will now contest the women’s consolation singles and also the doubles events later in the week.
Thirteen-year-old Esah Hayat made it a good day for Britain’s young deaf tennis stars when he also won his first international senior match. Hayat beat Luuk Bolscher of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-4 to advance to a second round men’s singles contest against Austrian fifth seed Mario Kargl.
Jack Clifton joined Hayat in the second round after beating another Dutch player, Eric Brugman. Nineteen year-old Clifton, who begins a four year college tennis scholarship in the USA next month, will now play Hungarian top seed and reigning Deaflympic Games champion Gabor Mathe of Hungary. Mathe won the men’s singles on his last visit to Nottingham for the 2006 British Open Deaf Tennis Championships.
The remaining Brits in the draw Peter Willcox and Lewis Fletcher are both seeded and therefore have byes into the second round.
More than 70 players from 20 countries are taking part in the 1st World Deaf Tennis Championships.