Photo: Steve Wake / Professional SportYui Kamiji (JPN)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: World No. 1 junior girl Yui Kamiji was responsible for the exit of one of two seeded players in the women’s singles on the third day of play at the London 2012 Paralympic Tennis Event as the 18-year-old Japanese player marked her Paralympic debut by reaching the quarterfinals.
Kamiji came from 5-2 down and saved two set points in the opening set before going on to secure a 76(3) 62 victory over world No. 7 Annick Sevenans of Belgium
World No. 11 Kamiji and Sevenans had never met each other before their Court 1 encounter at Eton Manor and Sevenans started the better as she built a 3-1 first set lead with some solid play.
Kamiji had chances to bring the score back to 4-3, but after a succession of entertaining rallies in the seventh games Sevenans extended her advantage to 5-2.
However, Kamiji refused to give in and reduced the deficit to 5-3 with a high looping backhand that bounced out of the reach of Sevenans. With the Japanese player gaining in confidence and playing more attacking tennis and Sevenans becoming more inconsistent it wasn’t long until the scores were level at 5-5.
Sevenans served for the set for a third time at 6-5 and secured a string of set points, but Kamiji saved the first with an impressive cross court forehand winner and save a third set point with another cross court forehand winner from the other side of the court en roué to forcing a tiebreak.
With both players under pressure in the tiebreak it was Kamiji that secured the first breakthrough to lead 5-3 and she never looked back, winning the last four points of the set.
The second set saw Kamiji break the Belgian player’s serve to love in three out of four games and Sevenans was only able to win two points on her own serve as Kamiji’s confidence soared. When Sevenans hit a backhand into the net in the eighth game Kamiji had her first match point and within seconds a forehand rebounded off Sevenans’s racket to the back of the court to give Kamiji her place in the last eight against Dutch world No. 2 Aniek van Koot.
“I got nervous before the match, but my mother and my family were there to cheer me on and it helped,” said Kamiji. “At the beginning the crowd was making me nervous, but I am very focused, so as the match went on I didn’t see the crowd anymore.”
Kamiji and van Koot have met only three times before, all three matches having taken place this season, with Kamiji taking a set off the Dutch player at the World Team Cup in Korea Republic on May. However, the quarterfinals could provide a far tougher challenge for Kamiji after van Koot secured the second round match against Chile’s Francisca Mardones 60 60.
“I was quite nervous beforehand because she is a good player and she plays with a lot of strength and a lot of pace,” said van Koot, who, like Kamiji, is making her Paralympic Games debut. “But I kept my cool on court and it especially gives me confidence on my strokes that even when I was down in a game, I still kept my serve and I am really pleased with that. I will be play each round a day at a time and each day is a new day. But of course everyone dreams of medals.“
Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.