Ruben Perez made the main headlines on Thursday’s first day of the Open International Fundacion Emilio Sanchez Vicario, part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, at the Ciudad de la Raqueta in Madrid after the Spaniard beat fourth seed Leonid Shevchik of Russia in the men’s singles.
This week’s ITF 3 Series event sees Sanchez Vicario, captain of Spain’s victorious Davis Cup by BNP Paribas team in 2008, as tournament director of an NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour event for the second year in a row. With players from ten different countries competing in Madrid, some of the 13 players from the host nation were involved in some of the day’s most fascinating matches in the men’s singles.
Perez beat Shevchik 46 75 76(2) after a final set tiebreak to earn a quarterfinal against junior Martin de la Puente, guaranteeing that Spain will have a player in the men’s singles semifinals. De la Puente claimed a closely-fought all-Spanish first round match to beat Juanjo Rodriguez 76(7) 64.
Top seed Lahcen Majdi survived an early scare to also advance to the quarterfinals. The Moroccan-born Frenchmen went a set down to Morocco’s Lhaj Boukartacha, but soon found his form and went on to seal a 36 61 60 victory that will see him play Martin Varela for a place in the semifinals after Varela’s 61 62 win over fellow Spaniard Jose Coronado.
A disappointing day for the Russian players saw young Dutchman Rody de Bie beat Ildus Shaikhislamov 61 61.
Meanwhile, there was also disappointment for the Spanish players in the bottom of the draw, despite Alvaro Illobre’s gallant effort against third seed Albin Batycki of Poland. Batycki eventually prevailed 46 75 64.
Another French-Moroccan contest ended in victory for Sebastien Huisser of France as he beat Jeddi Ahmed 63 76(4). Husser will now face world No. 1 junior Alfie Hewett after the 15-year-old Brit beat Roberto Chamizo, a member of Spain’s triumphant junior World Team Cup team in 2011, 62 63.
Women’s seeds advance comfortably
The start of the women’s singles ended with all four seeds reaching the semifinals after straight sets victories.
Top seed Marianna Lauro of Italy will face Pauline Helouin of France for a place in the final. Lauro opened her account with a 63 64 win over Evelyn Claverie of France, while Helouin secured a 64 62 win over Katarzyna Wojcieszak of Poland.
In the bottom half of the women’s draw, Mexican junior Lisbeth Soto completed the women’s quarterfinal line-up after easing past Cecile Levasseur of France 60 61. Soto later put up a fine early effort against British second seed Louise Hunt before Hunt advanced 64 61.
Hunt now faces a tough semifinal against home favourite Lola Ochoa, who eased to a 60 62 win over Russia’s Evgeniya Korotkina.
The first finalists to be decided were in the women’s doubles.
Top seeds Hunt and Ochoa beat Korotkina and Wojcieszak 60 62, but the other semifinal provided much more drama as second seeds Claverie and Helouin edged out Lauro and Soto 75 46 (10-4).
The tournament is organised thanks to a contribution from IV Music Festival La Ciudad de la Raqueta. The contribution helps projects of the Fundación Emilio Sánchez Vicario, including this week’s NEC Tour event and Paddle School for people with disabilities.