Noam Gershony of Israel completed a spectacular NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters debut on Friday when he recovered from a slow start to beat Great Britain’s Andrew Lapthorne in the quad singles final.
After Gershony’s victory the top two seeds, Maikel Scheffers of the Netherlands and Stephane Houdet of France won through to Saturday’s men’s singles final, while Aniek van Koot got the better of her compatriot Jiske Griffioen to earn the right to meet defending champion Esther Vergeer in the women’s singles final.
QUAD FINAL: Noam Gershony (ISR) d. Andrew Lapthorne (GBR) 06 63 75
After losing a tight round-robin group contest to Gershony, Lapthorne produced a clinical performance in the first set of the final, taking it on his second set point after 20 minutes.
However, Gershony battled his way to a 4-2 lead in the second set as Lapthorne found it hard to keep up his level of play from the first set and the Israeli world No. 3 went on to earn himself three set points in the ninth game, confidently and precisely delivering a forehand drop shot on his first set point to force a deciding set.
Gershony’s drop shot attempts fell short of the same precision at the start of the third set and he failed to capitalise on three games points in the fourth game as Lapthorne came from 0-40 down to maintain parity.
Lapthorne held his service to love to lead the third set for the first time at 4-3, but the magnitude of the occasion saw both players intersperse moments of inspired tennis with a display of nerves and the match reached an uneasy balance at 5-5 in the decider. Gershony regained the lead at 6-5 and dramatic last game in the final saw him eventually hit the winner on his fourth match point.
“I couldn’t understand how I had lost the first set so quickly, and thought it would be embarrassing if I lost 60 60 in front of all these people, but thankfully his level dropped in the second set and I was able to take advantage of that,” said Gershony after he and Lapthorne had collected their trophies and cheques from Hitoshi Suzuki, General Manager of Social Contributions and CSR Promotions, and Christo Kok, ITF Wheelchair Tennis Committee Member.
“This is all new to me as it is my first win in a major final outside of the Super Series events and my first NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, so to be champion feels quite strange, but I am very, very happy.”
David Wagner (USA) d. Nick Taylor (USA) 61 60
World No. 1 Wagner maintained his healthy head-to-had record over his compatriot as he dropped just the third game in the play-off for third and fourth place in the quad event and beat Taylor by the same score as when they met in the round-round phase of the competition.
MEN’S SEMIFINAL: Maikel Scheffers (NED) d. Ronald Vink (NED) 63 62
World No. 2 Scheffers maintained his challenge for a second NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters title.
The 2009 champion gained a crucial break to lead world No. 7 Vink 4-2 in the opening set of their semfinal and built on a 5-1 second set lead to reach Saturday’s final.
MEN’S SEMIFINAL: Stephane Houdet (FRA) d. Robin Ammerlaan (NED) 06 63 63
Ammerlaan is the only other Dutchman to secure a year-end men’s world No. 1 ranking and the former NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters champion looked to be on course to challenge for his seventh title at the prestigious event as he needed just 20 minutes to secure the opening set against a bemused Houdet.
However, the French world No. 3 gained an early break to lead the second set 3-1 and then 5-2 en route to forcing a decisive final set.
Houdet gained another vital break to start the third set and dominated the last two games of the match to book his place in another NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters final.
Stefan Olsson (SWE) d. Nicolas Peifer (FRA) 60 62
Twelve months on from winning his second NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters title world No. 4 Olsson ended his 2011 campaign in fifth place after a comfortable victory over the world No. 5, the Swede dropping just the fourth and sixth games in the second set.
Satoshi Saida (JPN) d. Frederic Cattaneo (FRA) 64 46 61
Having travelled furthest of the eight men in this year’s NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, world No. 8 Saida gained his first victory of the week in the contest for seventh place.
Saida and Cattaneo each made early decisive breaks in the first and second sets, but Saida took a firm grip to lead the final set 5-0 before Cattaneo gained his last game of his 2011 effort.
WOMEN’S SEMIFINAL: Esther Vergeer (NED) d. Marjolein Buis (NED) 60 60
Vergeer’s bid for her fourteenth NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters final stepped up a gear in the semi-finals of the women’s singles as the world No. 1 ensured there would be no fairytale ending to her younger compatriot’s first semifinal at the year-end championship.
Vergeer swept through the opening set and although Buis made the top seed work especially hard for the third and fifth games in the second set there was little she could do against Vergeer’s firepower and Vergeer closed out the victory on her first match point after 57 minutes of play.
WOMEN’S SEMIFINAL: Aniek van Koot (NED) d. Jiske Griffioen (NED) 63 64
Not for the first time, two all-Dutch women’s semifinals brought with them something of a surprise result as world No. 3 van Koot inflicted the first and decisive defeat of the week on world No. 2 Griffioen to reach her first NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters final.
Van Koot constructed a healthy 4-1 first set lead over Griffioen and won the first three games of the second set to give herself sufficient cushions to close out a significant victory after little more than an hour on court.
Daniela di Toro (AUS) d. Annick Sevenans (BEL) 75 36 76(6)
The Australian former world No. 1 and 2010 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters runner-up won the match of the day on the penultimate day of action at Heiveld Tennis Centre, using her vast experience to edge the opening set.
With local favourite Sevenans hoping to end her campaign at her first NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters on home soil she battled her way through the second set after earning a decisive 5-2 lead, but a tense final set saw di Toro need just the one match point to end her 2011 bid on a winning note as she claimed fifth place.
Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) d. Sharon Walraven (NED) 36, 5-0 Ret.
World No. 6 Ellerbrock ended her NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters showing a win to gain seventh place, but it was probably not in the manner she would have wished for after dropping the opening set. However, with Walraven struggling at 5-0 down in the second set the Dutchwoman had to retire.