Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportEsther Vergeer (NED)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: The London 2012 Paralympic Tennis Event came to a close on Saturday evening with Shingo Kunieda of Japan and Noam Gershony of Israel both creating history when they won the men’s singles and quad singles gold medals respectively, while a day earlier Esther cemented her status as the most successful Paralympic Tennis player ever when she won her fourth successive women’s singles gold medal.
At the start of eight days of competition at Eton Manor, the only purpose-built London 2012 Paralympic venue, 112 players from 31 countries set out in the pursuit of success in six medal events.
The first seeded players to exit were in the men’s singles as Adam Kellerman of Australia beat No. 13 seed Satoshi Saida of Japan, while Great Britain’s David Phillipson avenged his Beijing 2008 second round loss to No. 15 seed Martin Legner of Austria.
Ninth seed Gordon Reid of Great Britain upset Swedish sixth seed Stefan Olsson and No. 11 seed Joachim Gerard of Belgium defeated eighth seed Nicolas Peifer of France to reach the quarterfinals. While all four top seeds progressed to the semifinals, world No. 2 Kunieda went on to become the first player to win back-to-back men’s singles gold medals after he beat world No. 1 Stephane Houdet of France 64 62 in the gold medal match.
The bronze medal went to fourth seed Ronald Vink after he avenged his loss to fellow Dutchman Maikel Scheffers in the bronze medal match in Beijing in 2008 to win 46 76(5) 64.
Sakhorn Khanthasit of Thailand and Yui Kamiji of Japan beat No. 6 seed Daniela di Toro of Australia and No. 7 seed Annick Sevenans of Belgium respectively to become the only non-seeds in the women’s singles quarterfinals and Khanthasit went on to become the first player to take a game off Vergeer at Eton Manor.
But after the four top seeds reached the semifinals Vergeer went on to surpass Australian David Hall’s record of six Paralympic Tennis medals when she beat world No. 2 Aniek van Koot 60 63 in the gold medal match to stretch her winning streak of unbeaten matches to 470 and her winning sequence of tournaments to 120 since her last loss to di Toro at the end of January 2003.
Jiske Griffioen made it an all-Dutch women’s singles podium for the third time in six Paralympic Tennis Events when she defeated German fourth seed Sabine Ellerbrock 62 76(6) in the bronze medal match.
The first two rounds of matches in the quad singles saw Britain’s leading hopes bow out as Sweden’s Anders Hard defeated No. 4 seed Andy Lapthorne in the first round, while Shraga Weinberg of Israel ended Peter Norfolk’s hopes of a third successive Paralympic gold medal with a stunning 36 75 60 victory in the quarterfinals.
But the world’s top two players progressed to the final, despite No. 2 seed Gershony having to come from a set down in his quarterfinal against Great Britain’s Jamie Burdekin, and the Israeli went on to defeat world No. 1 David Wagner of USA 63 61 to clinch Israel’s first Paralympic gold medal in wheelchair tennis.
After finishing fourth in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, Nick Taylor of USA finally got the quad singles medal he desperately wanted when he beat Weinberg 16 63 64 in the bronze medal match.
There were upsets in both men’s double semifinals as sixth seeds Stefan Olsson and Peter Vikstrom of Sweden avenged their loss to French top seeds and defending champions Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz of France in the Beijing 2008 gold medal match, winning 61 76(6). Meanwhile fourth seeds Frederic Cattaneo and Nicolas Peifer of France earned their first Paralympic medals after defeating Dutch second seeds Robin Ammerlaan and Vink 63 62.
Olsson and Vikstrom subsequently went one better than they did in Beijing when they beat Cattaneo and Peifer 61 62 to win Sweden’s first Paralympic Tennis gold medal. Houdet and Jeremiasz followed up their Beijing gold medal with bronze at London 2012 after defeating Ammerlaan and Vink 60 60.
The women’s doubles medals went according to the seeding as Marjolein Buis and Vergeer beat second seeds Griffioen and Aniek van Koot 61 63 in another all-Dutch gold medal match. Third seeds Lucy Shuker and Jordanne Whiley of Great Britain overcame a tough challenge for the bronze medal as they recovered from a set down to beat Thailand’s Athens 2004 silver medallists Sakhorn Khanthasit and Ratana Techamaneewat 67(8) 76(2) 63 and gain Britain’s first women’s doubles medal.
Taylor and Wagner won a remarkable third successive quad doubles gold medal when they got the better of top seeds and long-time rivals Lapthorne and Norfolk 63 57 62. The bronze medal went to Gershony and Weinberg, who eased to a 63 61 win over Japan’s Shota Kawano and Mitsuteru Moroishi.
During the competition wheelchair tennis attracted capacity crowds on the show courts and some important visitors, including Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Sebastian Coe and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Review the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.