06 Jul 2014

Wheeling their way to the Wimbledon title


MATCH REPORT

By  Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Takeo TanumaJordanne Whiley (GBR) and Yui Kamiji (JPN)

This year at Wimbledon, Great Britain’s Jordanne Whiley never had a doubt that her lucky charm would finally help deliver a first Wimbledon trophy.

Those Wimbledon strawberry drop earrings hanging from her earlobes, the very earrings that had yet to bring good fortune in the past two Wimbledon finals, finally worked their magic in 2014. 

Whiley was beaming, as was Yui Kamiji of Japan, as the top-seeded pairing became the new Wimbledon Wheelchair Ladies’ Doubles champions.

“What did I tell you the other day that these were third-time lucky earrings and today they’ve done me proud,” said Whiley, the pride of Birmingham, England.

The duo faced a formidable challenge by playing against the two-time defending champions and second-seeded Jiske Griffioen and Aniek Van Koot of Netherlands. Kamiji and Whiley saved their best for the third-set battle to come away with a 26 62 75 victory.

When Kamiji and Whiley made it to 65 in the third set, Whiley was so jittery she was concerned she might get sick on the court.

“I said to Yui I thought I was going to vomit because I felt excited, nervous and was so scared,” Whiley said. “Then when we won I was just elated.”

The victory is the third Grand Slam title of the year for the Kamiji-Whiley combo, who also took home the Australian Open trophy in January and he Roland Garros trophy last month. For Whiley, this year represents her debut as a Grand Slam champion.

For Kamiji, who also won her first Grand Slam singles trophy at Roland Garros last month, winning a third Grand Slam doubles title this season with Whiley was a thrill.

“Of course, I’m very excited and it’s so amazing,” said Kamiji, who went on to explain her friendship with Whiley. “She’s my most favourite girl.”

For Whiley, the journey into wheelchair tennis was a natural. Like her father, Whiley was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, more commonly known as Brittle Bone Disease. He played wheelchair tennis and also won a bronze medal in wheelchair racing at the 1984 Paralympic Games in New York.

Not surprisingly, Whiley had a huge cheering section on Sunday that included her parents, boyfriend Marc, and friends who urged the tandem onto victory.

“It’s great to have such a great crowd supporting us and as I’m British it’s great that British fans are backing me,” she said.

But it should also be pointed out that the men’s wheelchair final, running simultaneously next door on Court 16, also had a standing-room only crowd. After the top-seeded Stephane Houdet and Shingo Kunieda defended their title with a come-from-behind 57 60 63 win over second seeds Maikel Scheffers and Ronald Vink of Netherlands, Houdet looked across the grounds to Court 18, one of the show courts at Wimbledon.

“Next year I think we should play over there because we have enough fans,” said Houdet, who was thrilled to learn that their match was being shown to the fans on Henman Hill or Murray Mound — depending on your name preference. 

Houdet and Kunieda raced to a 5-1 lead, but it took two match points to get the title. The winners had one match point on Scheffers’ serve in the eighth game at 30-40, but the Dutch duo held firm. They closed out the match on Houdet’s serve in the ninth game.

“We’re very happy to be able to defend this title,” Houdet said. “You know with us, we love to play, we love the game. We have a lot of pleasure on the court which is maybe why we keep going.”

And as Kunieda suggested so succinctly, becoming a Grand Slam champion never gets old: “Every time we win is exciting for us,” he said.

In the men’s consolation match, Tom Egberink of Netherlands and Gordon Reid of Great Britain defeated Frederic Cattaneo of France and Joachim Gerard of Belgium 62 64.

In the ladies’ consolation match Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany and Lucy Shuker of Great Britain defeated Katharina Kruger of Germany and Sharon Walraven of the Netherlands 63 64.

Women's Doubles Draw

Men's Doubles Draw



Photos

  • Jordanne Whiley (GBR) and Yui Kamiji (JPN)Stephane Houdet (FRA) and Shingo Kunieda (JPN)
  • Jordanne Whiley (GBR) and Yui Kamiji (JPN)Shingo Kunieda (JPN) and Stephane Houdet (FRA)
  • Ronald Vink and Maikel Scheffers (NED)Shingo Kunieda (JPN) and Stephane Houdet (FRA)
  • Men's doubles finalists Ronald Vink and Maikel Scheffers (NED), Stephane Houdet (FRA) and Shingo Kunieda (JPN)Yui Kamiji (JPN) and Jordanne Whiley (GBR)
  • Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot (NED)

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