26 Mar 2018

De Groot, Hewett, Alcott seal Cajun Classic titles


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Photo: Ellen HeathDiede de Groot (NED)

Diede de Groot, Alfie Hewett and Dylan Alcott won the second Super Series women’s, men’s and quad singles titles of 2018 at the Cajun Classic, part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, with de Groot’s victory in Sunday’s women’s singles final set to see her claim the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in her career.

De Groot’s 63 62 victory over Zhenzhen Zhu of China, P.R. marked more than one career first for the 21-year-old top seed, who had never beaten Zhu in their three previous matches.

De Groot becomes the latest in a long line of world No. 1 women’s singles players from Netherlands and joins Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot among the Dutch stars rising to the top spot since the retirement of Esther Vergeer in 2013.

“I hadn’t won against her (Zhu) yet. I had a game plan and I just needed to get into it and play that game, but, yeah, the first few games were just a bit nervous.

"A number of people have been asking me ‘will you be No.1, will you be this, will you be that and I haven’t even thought about it, I just wanted to play well,” said de Groot, whose last match against Zhu had been in the women’s final at the 2017 BNP Paribas World Team Cup.

De Groot completed the tournament with both singles and doubles titles after partnering Lucy Shuker to beat the all-Dutch top-seed pairing of Marjolein Buis and van Koot in the women’s doubles final. De Groot and Shuker fought back from 5-2 down in the final set to prevail 26 63 75.

Hewett wins first career Super Series singles title

Hewett also claimed a career first with his 63 76(6) victory over world No. 4 Shingo Kunieda in the men’s singles final as the world No. 1 sealed his first Super Series singles title.

It was Hewett’s first win over Kunieda in three matches since the 20-year-old Brit beat Kunieda in the quarterfinals of last September’s US Open in New York. The result was also a reversal of the first Super Series men’s final of the year in Sydney in January, when Kunieda beat Hewett 64 64.

“He’s (Kunieda) beaten me the last couple of times so I was really up for today, even though I felt tired. I really wanted to get on court and prove a point. He’s had a really good start to the year and played some of his best tennis for a long, long while. I knew it was going to be tough and I came out and played some of my best tennis,” said Hewett.

While finishing runner-up in the men’s singles, Kunieda also finished runner-up in the men’s doubles as French top seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer made it back-to-back Super Series titles. Houdet and Peifer beat Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez and Kunieda, the fourth seeds 62 64.

Alcott leads Australian clean sweep in quad events

The first ever Super Series singles title to be won at the Cajun Classic went to world No. 3 Alcott on Saturday as he led an Australian sweep of both the quad singles and quad doubles titles in Baton Rouge. The 27-year-old third seed dominated against world No. 2 Andy Lapthorne to win the singles final 60 62.

With just one loss on his record to date this season, when he was beaten by current world No. 1 David Wagner in the round-robin phase of the Australian Open, Alcott took his tally of match wins for 2018 into double figures as he claimed the 13th Super Series singles title of his career.

“I had a blinder, I played awesome, I’m stoked, that’s as good as it gets, I’m really happy,” said Alcott. “I really enjoy playing Andy, we’ve got similar games. I won the last one at the Aussie Open, he beat me the time before at the US Open. Andy’s a great competitor, I love playing him. I love coming back, I’ll be here next year for sure.”

Alcott was again on the right end of the result when he partnered Heath Davidson to victory in the Australian-British quad doubles final later in the day. Having beaten top seeds Bryan Barten and Wagner in the semifinals, Alcott and Davidson ended Antony Cotterill and Lapthorne’s hopes of defending the quad doubles title, winning 46 61 63 to again clinch their second Super Series title of 2018.



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