Japan Through to World Team Cup


Japan celebrates (Photo: Sri Lanka Tennis Association)


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Japan has qualified for the World Team Cup finals following a 2-1 win over China in the Asian qualification men’s final on Sunday.

With a guaranteed place in the men’s final Japan rested its main players ahead of the final round robin tie, falling to a 3-0 loss to hosts Sri Lanka. Suresh Dharmasena defeated Yoshinobu Fujimoto 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 before Gamini Dissanayake managed a huge upset, beating world no. 15 Kouhei Suzuki 6-4, 7-5 to win the tie for Sri Lanka.

Needing a win in its last match to advance in the final, China managed a tight 2-1 victory over Malaysia to advance in the most dramatic fashion. Facing elimination Ariggahmi Zaquan Ariffin managed a 7-62, 4-6, 7-66 win over Chao Du to force the doubles match. China cruised in the doubles claiming a 6-1, 6-4 win to claim the tie and a place in the final.

Shunjiang Dong put China in a good position in the first match of the final as he managed a three-set win against Fujimoto 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. But Japan came powering back with world No. 8 Takashi Sanada claiming the second singles rubber in three sets.

That sent the tie to the doubles rubber, with Du and Fujimoto teaming up and getting a strong win, easily beating the Chinese pair 6-4, 6-3. That doubles win sent Japan through to the World Team Cup finals for the 32nd time.


Korea Republic Seals Place in World Team Cup


Korean Ju-Youn Park (Photo: ITF)


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Korea Republic is through to the women’s World Team Cup Finals as it managed a 2-0 win over the Malaysians in the Asian qualifiers at Colombo on Thursday and Friday. Meanwhile, on the men’s side of the draw former World Team Cup Champion Japan has gone through its first two ties undefeated.

By qualifying, the Koreans make the flagship team tournament for the first time since 2014, and the 17th time in total after two simple victories qualified Korea for the World Team Cup finals.

Korea managed a tight win in the first match as In Kyung Han won 6-3 7-64 against experienced Malaysian. The second singles rubber was a different story as Ju-Youn Park had no trouble demolishing Nur Aqidah Zainuddin 6-0, 6-0 to seal the win and advance the side to the finals.

The second tie on Friday was even easier for Korea as Han claimed a 6-0, 6-3 lead before Park won 6-0, 6-0 again. The 3-0 win was wrapped up thanks to a 6-0, 6-0 win in the doubles tie as Korea managed a 2-0 series win over Malaysia.

Japan just missed out on automatic qualification for the men’s event, finishing 14th in 2017, and as such had to face up to the Asian qualifiers. The top seed at the tournament has wasted no time with Japan managing two 3-0 wins over Malaysia and China to open the tournament.

It was a tight match in the first singles match of the tie as Kouhei Suzuki defeated Mohd Yusshazwan Yussof 7-60, 7-5. The tie against Malaysia was wrapped up when the world no. 8 Takahashi Sanada defeated Ariffahmi Zaquan Ariffin 6-2, 6-2.

The second tie saw Japan down China with another tight opener as Suzuki had to come from a set down to claim the win 6-74, 6-3, 7-62. Again the second match was much more comfortable for the Japanese team as Sanda claimed the 6-0, 6-3 win to put Japan 2-0 through the matches.

China managed one win with a 3-0 win over Sri Lanka in what was actually a tight tie despite the overall score as Shunjiang Dong claimed the 6-3, 7-67 win in the first singles match. The second match saw a tight win for Chao Du as he defeated Gamini Dissanayake  6-1, 6-3. With the tie sealed, Sri Lanka nearly stole a point as the doubles match went to a tiebreak only for China to win 1-6, 6-3, 10-8.

Sri Lanka condemned Malaysia to a winless record, coming from behind to claim a 2-1 win in the tie after Yussof managed a 6-2, 6-3 win over Lasantha Ranaweera. The tie was leveled thanks to Suresh Dharmasena claiming a 6-2, 6-4 win over Ariffin. That pushed it to a deciding doubles tie with the Sri Lankans pleasing the home crowd with a 6-2, 6-2 win keeping its hopes alive.

Australian Open Winners Crowned

Shingo Kunieda after winning his title (Photo: ITF)

MELBOURNE, Australia – The winners of the first Grand Slam of 2018 have been crowned with Shingo Kunieda, Diede de Groot, and Dylan Alcott claiming the Australian Open singles titles in Melbourne on Saturday.

For the fourth straight year Dylan Alcott claimed the Quad singles title in his home grand slam as he managed a straight sets win over number one seed David Wagner. With the attention of playing on Rod Laver Arena Alcott managed a 7-61, 6-1 win to retain his title yet again.

Alcott had the crowd behind him throughout the match on the center court in Melbourne Park, in front of his home fans. After struggling in the first set, he used the crowd’s energy to take the win easily in the second set and pushed through winning yet again in straight sets.

There were just 27 unforced errors between the two players, Alcott making 10 of them, while there were plenty of winners on display with Wagner managing 46 to Wagner’s 31.

Things went on serve in the first set, until Alcott broke in the ninth game before Wagner broke right back, requiring a tie break. In the second set Alcott broke, and from there he cruised to the victory in his home grand slam.

The women’s singles title was a very different story as Diede de Groot claimed her first Australian Open title and her second career grand slam title. De Groot managed a straight sets win 7-66, 6-4 win over the defending champion Yui Kamiji in an upset.

It was the first time de Groot had made the final at Melbourne Park and she was firmly against the odds, having only defeated Kamiji four times previously. Both players struggled to hold serve with 13 breaks claimed in the match but de Groot managed to hold on enough to claim the win.

In the men’s singles final, both players had match point opportunities, with the match going to three sets. Eventually Shingo Kunieda won the match in a third set tie break after dropping the first set, claiming the title 4-6, 6-1, 7-63.

Stephane Houdet went agonizingly close to winning the match, and what would have been his first Australian Open title, on the Kunieda serve in the third set. At 2-5 Houdet had a match point for break but couldn’t get the break, and then again at 4-5 he had two opportunities to break but couldn’t get the point, which would end up proving costly. Coming back from 2-5 down, Kunieda quickly went 3-1 up in the tiebreak and then won with an error on his very first match point.

Shocks Come in Melbourne Open

Ziying Wang manages a backhand (Photo: Melbourne Open/ITF)

MELBOURNE – Chinese wheelchair tennis player, Ziying Wang has stunned the world number two Diede de Groot as she knocked de Groot out of the ITF 1 Melbourne Open in the quarterfinals on Wednesday afternoon at the Hume Tennis and Community Centre.

Without a world ranking, after missing most of the 2017 season, Wang was in the tournament as a wild card and stunned the reigning Masters and Wimbledon champion. Wang won in straight sets, eliminating de Groot 6-3, 7-5 securing a return to the Wheelchair Tennis Rankings, her previous best ranking standing at 30.

Wang’s reward for winning that match will be to take on the world number three, another Dutch player, Aniek van Koot. Van Koot will come in with an advantage that her countrywoman didn’t have, a previous match with Wang, which she won in Sydney last week 7-63, 6-4. Van Koot advanced to the semifinals after a 7-5, 6-3 win over Zhenzhen Zhu of China.

South African Kgothastso Montjane looks set to jump from her seventh position in the world rankings as she took down the woman above her, British player Lucy Shuker. It was a thrilling match, with Montjane forced to come from a set down before managing the 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win.

The world number one, Yui Kamiji continued to make light work of the tournament as she easily accounted for fellow Japanese player Manami Tanaka, winning 6-0, 6-0. Kamiji will face Montjane in the other semifinal, on Friday.

In the men’s side of the tournament it has been very different with most of the sets being 6-0 wins, nine of the 16 sets were won 6-0 with all the top eight easily advancing. Gustavo Fernandez and Joachim Gerard both advanced without dropping a set.

There were only two truly competitive matches in the men’s play on Wednesday with Alfie Hewett defeating South African Evans Maripa 6-3, 6-0. He will face Nicolas Peifer following a 6-3, 6-2 win over Japanese player Yoshinobu Fujimoto, the only losing player to win a game in both sets.


Laureus Sports Award Finalists Named

Jezte Plat after winning the Hawaii Ironman (Photo: IPC)

MONACO – The biggest award in para sport has seen nominees named as the Laureus World Sports Awards announced its shortlist of six athletes for the World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award. Marcel Hug, Yui Kamiji, Oksana Masters, Bibian Mentel-Spee, Jezte Plat, and Markus Rehm have all been named nominees for the award which will be handed out in Monaco on February 27th.

Marcel Hug had another phenomenal season in 2017, winning three world championships at the World Para Athletics Championship in London in the 800m, 1,500m, and 5,000m. On top of his work on the track he was a star on the road winning the Tokyo, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, and New York Marathons.

Yui Kamiji has climbed to the top of the women’s singles wheelchair tennis rankings after a phenomenal year in 2017. In 2017 the Japanese tennis player won 14 singles titles out of a possible 18 through the tour, winning three of the four Grand Slams, winning in Australia, France and the US. She also impressed in doubles, sitting number two in the world winning eight titles and two Grand Slams.

Oksana Masters moved to a new sport in 2017, for the third time in her career moving from rowing to cycling to now Nordic skiing. Masters won four world titles in her first year as an elite athlete at the sport along with winning four gold and a bronze in the World Cup. Masters finished her season ranked number one in cross-country and third in biathlon.

Bibian Mentel-Spee had a phenomenal come back year in 2017, after cancer treatment took her away from competing in 2016. Mentel-Spee has long led snowboarding, fighting for its inclusion at the Paralympic Games she continued to impress in 2017.

Being an elite athlete at one sport wasn’t enough for Dutchman Jetze Plat who was at the top of both cycling and triathlon. Plat won the Individual Time Trial and Road Race at the UCI Para Cycling World Championships and then went and won the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final just 12 days later. Nine days after that win Plat won the Berlin Marathon before claiming the para-athlete title at the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon in October, leading from start to finish.

German Markus Rehm continued to impress in Para Athletics claiming two world titles in very different disciplines in London. Rehm dominated the field in the men’s long jump T44 with an eight meter leap, more than one meter clear of the rest of the field before winning the 4x100m T42-46 with his German team mates.

Wheelchair Tennis Tour Completes With Bath Indoor Titles

Alfie Hewett celebrates his title (Photo: Tennis Foundation)

BATH, Eng., United Kingdom – The final wheelchair tennis tour event before the tour championship has been completed as both Alfie Hewett and Diede de Groot managed straight sets victories to claim the men’s and women’s singles titles on Saturday.

With the NEC Singles Wheelchair Masters coming up next week Hewett and de Groot have surely marked themselves as favourites for the major title.

Hewett was a convincing winner in the men’s singles final as he won 6-0 6-4 over Swede Stefan Olsson, the 2017 Wimbledon Champion. The win sees Hewett come into the season ending masters event with a world ranking of third, making him a strong contender for the title.

De Groot claims the women’s singles title with a simple 6-1, 6-2 victory over German world No. 4 Sabine Ellerbrock. The Dutchwoman than backed up well winning the women’s doubles final with British partner Lucy Shuker. The pair won the match 6-0, 7-5 with Ellerbrock also losing in that match with her partner Dutch Marjolein Buis, putting up a good fight in the second set but just couldn’t manage the win.

Following the loss in the men’s singles final, Olsson recovered well from that defeat, partnering with Belgian Joachim Gerard to win their second straight Bath Indoor title. The pair managed a tough win, claiming the title 7-6(2), 6-2, taking that momentum into the second set for the win.

In the quad tournaments, the singles was claimed by number one David Wagner with a surprise in the doubles as Brazilian Ymanitu Silva teamed up with South African

Alfie Hewett Through to US Open Final

NEW YORK CITY – Two opponents who knew each other well did battle in the US Open semi-final, with Gordon Reid taking on Alfie Hewett in an all-British final on Saturday afternoon at the Grandstand court at the USTA Center in New York.

After two early breaks a piece, Reid broke to make it 4-3 with a love receiving game to claim that break and take charge of the set. At 15-30, down 5-4, Hewett hit a phenomenal return to get break point and claim the game to level it at 5-5, forcing extra games in the set. From there Hewett won two straight games, claiming the first set, thanks to two straight breaks to claim the first set 7-5.

Things continued to be tight in the second set, with the first five games of the set going on serve, before Hewett managed a break with two strong returns to make it 4-2. But Reid fought back, with a similar comeback and won the set 7-5 to force a third set.

That then saw the world number two take firm control of the match as he just tore apart his doubles partner to take a 4-0 lead in the set before Hewett held serve to give himself some hope, quickly winning three straight. That saw Hewett push the match to a third set tiebreak, to decide which of the two British men would advance to the final Grand Slam final of the year.

The tiebreak would prove just as competitive as the rest of the match, Hewett saved match point three times at 6-3 down in the tie break, before he got match point at 8-7. Reid would save that one but couldn’t save the next, falling 10-8 in the tiebreak, giving Hewett the 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 win knocking out the world number two, and his doubles partner, Gordon Reid.