21 Mar 2018

Cajun Classic begins with new Super Series status

News Article

Photo: Ellen HeathMaikel Scheffers (NED)

Seven players from seven different countries booked their places in the men’s singles second round on Tuesday as the 2018 Cajun Classic got underway, marking the tournament’s advent among the family of six Super Series events on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour.

Wednesday’s second day of play is scheduled to see the quarterfinalists decided in each of the men’s, women’s and quad singles as the 29th edition of one of the sport’s most enduring events continues in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Twelve months ago the Cajun Classic brought the first tournament victory of 2017 for Alfie Hewett before the young Brit ended the year as NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters champion. A year on and Hewett returns to Baton Rouge for his title defence as world No.1. The top seed plays Japan’s Kouhei Suzuki for a place in the last eight after Suzuki’s 60 62 win over Mexico’s Carlos Muro.

Mike Denayer of Belgium, Maikel Scheffers of Netherlands, Diego Perez of Chile, Gaetan Menguy of France, Daniel Rodrigues of Brazil and USA’s Casey Ratzlaff all secured straight sets wins to advance to the last 16, with Denayer now heading into a first career meeting with Stephane Houdet, who has moved up one place to world No. 3 in this week’s UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Rankings following his ITF 1 Series Georgia Open victory.

Scheffers was the only Top 10 player in action on the opening day of competition, the Dutch world No. 10 defeating Yoshinobu Fujimoto 61 62 to set up a contest against a second Japanese opponent in seventh seed Takashi Sanada,

Chile’s Araya edges Jordan 14 years after first career meeting

Fourteen years on from the first meeting and 12 years on from the second meeting between Chile’s Pablo Araya and USA’s David Jordan their third career meeting ended with Araya moving 2-1 ahead in head-to-heads.

Former world No.12 Araya beat former world No. 4 Jordan 36 63 63 to set up a quad singles quarterfinal against world No.1 and defending champion David Wagner.

Wagner is joined in the last 16 by compatriots Bryan Barten and Nick Taylor. Barten’s moved up two places to No. 6 in this week’s quad singles world rankings after his first career win over Wagner in 28 matches to win the Georgia Open. Seventh seed this week in Baton Rouge, Barten will open his Cajun Classic campaign against Brazil’s Ymanitu Silva, who was a 61 60 first round winner over Guatemala’s Julio Rueda.

Taylor was the only one of Tuesday’s five quad singles match winners to pull through in three sets, the former world No. 1 eventually finding his rhythm to beat Canada’s Gary Luker 46 61 60. Taylor and Luker’s last three meetings on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour have now all come at the Cajun Classic since 2014, Taylor winning all three matches.

A week ago Japan’s Shota Kawano beat world No. 4 Lucas Sithole for the first time to earn a Georgia Open quarterfinal against Barten. Kawano will need to beat world No. 3 Dylan Alcott for the first time if he is to reach the Cajun Classic quarterfinals, having started tentatively with 64 75 win against Sweden’s Anders Hard.

The other quad singles winner on the opening day was Japan’s Koji Sugeno. Sugeno set up a rematch of his Bolton Indoor semifinal last month against world No. 2 Andy Lapthorne after overcoming American Greg Hasterook 63 63.

Zhu and Huang advance in women’s singles

Just four women’s singles matches were needed as play got underway on Tuesday, with two of the four players to progress being Chinese.

Natalia Mayara’s hopes of beating seeded opposition and progressing to a quarterfinal for the second week in a row ended with the Brazilian losing out to Zhenzhen Zhu 61 61.

Hui Min Huang was equally efficient as she swept past USA’s Elizabeth Williams 60 60.

Zhu and Huang now play seeded Dutch opponents, Zhu taking on second seed Aniek van Koot for a place in the quarterfinals, while Huang meets fourth seed Marjolein Buis.

Victory in Baton Rouge this week would take Diede de Groot to world No. 1 in the women’s singles rankings for the very first time. Top seed this week in the absence of current world No. 1 Yui Kamiji, de Groot begins her title challenge against Japan’s Yumiko Inoue, who got the better of Sweden’s Sanna Klindt 61 63 on Tuesday.

Colombia’s Angelica Bernal pushed de Groot to three sets last week at the Georgia Open before the Dutchwoman held on and eventually took the ITF 1 title. Bernal will aim to impress against Top 10 opposition again this week after beating Saki Takamuro of Japan 64 64. Bernal next plays third seed Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany.