Photo: Tommy HindleyJamie Burdekin (GBR)
The women’s singles and quad singles semifinal line-ups and the men’s singles quarterfinal line-up were all decided on the first day of the Eton Manor Wheelchair Tennis International, the Test Event for the London 2012 Paralympic Tennis Event, which is a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour and the ‘London Prepares’ series.
On a day when the guests of honour at Eton Manor included International Tennis Federation (ITF) President Francesco Ricci Bitti, ITF Executive Vice President Juan Margets and Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester, rain delayed the scheduled start of play until shortly after midday.
However, when the action eventually got underway, Beijing Paralympian Alex Jewitt won the first competitive match to be played on Centre Court at the purpose-built venue. Jewitt beat Britain’s reigning Junior Masters champion Alfie Hewett 62 64 to book his place in the final against second seed and British No. 1 Gordon Reid. Reid and third seed David Phillipson both won their opening matches 60 60.
"You'd rather be in shorts and a T-shirt and neither of us was playing our best but it was good and (you got the feeling) of being somewhere special," said Jewitt.
With the four quarterfinal berths in the bottom half of the draw all belonging to Britain’s four men’s singles entries from the Beijing Paralympics, Phillipson will play Kevin Simpson in the last eight after Simpson’s 76(3) 63 victory over josh Steels.
The only one of the men’s matches not to be won by a British player on the first day went to Dutch youngster Rody de Bie, who defeated Brit David Cabrera 60 60. De Bie will play fourth seed and recent South African Open champion Marc McCarroll in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, after a first round bye Dutch top seed Robin Ammerlaan will open his campaign against Britain’s Jamie Robinson.
Lucy Shuker will face world No. 1 and top seed Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands in Friday’s women’s singles semifinals after Shuker eased past fellow Brit Val Fisher 60 60. Jordanne Whiley and Kay Forshaw will meet in the other all-British semifinal.
World No. 7 Anders Hard joins three British players in the quad singles semifinals. Hard beat his fellow Swede Marcus Jonsson 63 61 in one of three first round matches and faces an intriguing semifinal against world No. 4 and second seed Andrew, who dropped just one game to Liam O’Reilly in one of the day’s other all-British contests.
"I have a tough game ahead of me tomorrow (Friday) against the world No. 7," said Lapthorne. "Hopefully with the backing of the crowd I can win."
Both quad singles semifinals should be fascinating contests, with world No. 6 Jamie Burdekin also taking on top seed and two-time Paralympic champion Peter Norfolk. Burdekin eased past young Brit Becky Coleman 60 60 in his opening match, while Norfolk had a first round bye.