Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportSakhorn Khanthasit (THA)
Suthi Khlongrua and Sakhorn Khanthasit have claimed the first men’s and women’s singles titles of the 2013 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour in Asia after winning at the Suvarnabhumi Open in Bangkok, the first of two back-to-back ITF Futures Series to be held in Thailand this week.
In the men’s singles, top seed Dissanayake Gamini of Sri Lanka and Thailand’s top three players, Khlongrua, Suwitchai Merngprom and Sumrerng Kruamai, all justified their seedings to reach the semifinals before Gamini overcame 2013 champion Kruamai 62 63.
Khlongrua and Merngprom were Thailand’s two representatives in the men’s singles at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, where they came up against silver and bronze medallists Stephane Houdet of France and Ronald Vink of the Netherlands, respectively, in the first round. But as the two Thai players went head-to-head, Khlongrua dominated the second set to win 75 60 as he beat Merngprom in the last four for the second successive year.
Khlongrua proceeded to go one better than last year, when he was runners-up, edging out Gamini 64 63 to clinch the title.
The all-Thai men’s doubles final ended with Khlongrua securing his second title of the tournament as he partnered Merngprom to retain the title when they beat Kruamai and Wittaya Peem-me 62 63.
With six different countries represented at this year’s Suvarnabhumi Open, the top half of the women’s singles draw featured only Thai players. Meanwhile, USA’s Shelby Baron beat Ukraine’s Olena Shyngaryova 61 61 and second seed Choosri Inthanin eased past India’s Dina Rulina 60 60 in the quarterfinals in the bottom half of the draw.
The semifinals saw former Paralympic women’s doubles medallists Khanthasit and Ratana Techamaneewat, who narrowly missed out in the women’s doubles bronze medal play-off at London 2012, go head-to-head, with Khanthasit dominating the contest as she reached the women’s singles final without dropping a game.
Inthanin beat Baron 61 64 to set up a rematch of the 2012 final, but ultimately the result was the same as former world No. 6 Kanthasit, whose three Paralympic Games campaigns since 2000 have all come to an end against Dutch medallists Sharon Walraven and Esther Vergeer, retained the title 62 60.
After partnering Techamaneewat to win the women’s doubles title last year, Khanthasit enjoyed success with Inthanin this time. With three Thai players in the women’s doubles final, Khanthasit and Inthanin beat Nongnuch Roswan and Shyngaryova 60 60.
The second of this week’s ITF Future Series tournaments in Thailand, the Khon Kaen Open, begins on Thursday.