GB deaf tennis stars earn unprecedented World Championships success

Lewis Fletcher and Esah Hayat in doubles action

Great Britain’s deaf tennis players are assured of unprecedented success at the 2nd World Deaf Tennis Championships. The squad of four players selected by the LTA, are set to play for six medals, including at least two silver medals, over the course of the next two days in Antalya, Turkey. 

Lewis Fletcher, Esah Hayat, Valerie Copenhagen and Phoebe Suthers will play for medals in men’s, women’s and mixed doubles events. Fletcher and Hayat are also through to play for the gold medal in men’s doubles, and Fletcher and Suthers through to the mixed doubles final. (Lewis Fletcher and Esah Hayat pictured above.)

Hayat and Fletcher beat India’s Prasanth Dasharta Hamsabhavi and Prithvi Sekhar 7-5, 6-4 in Thursday’s men’s doubles semi-finals at Antalya Tennis Club. Fourth seeds Fletcher and Hayat will now play German second seeds Urs Breitenberger and Sebastian Schäffer in Friday’s final. They are bidding to go one better than winning silver for Great Britain in last year’s Dresse Cup World Deaf Tennis Team Championships at the same venue.

Later on Thursday afternoon second seeds Fletcher and Suthers beat third seeds Schäffer and Verena Fleckenstein 6-3, 6-2 to book their place in Friday’s mixed doubles final. They will take on a second German partnership, top seeds Breitenberger and Heike Albrecht in the final. 

Lewis Fletcher said:

“It’s a nice feeling being in the finals and after last year’s Dresse Cup result it shows GB are one of the main contenders. I’m delighted to be sharing these two finals with Esah and Phoebe, but also for making a wise decision on only playing doubles here. It has paid off, but I am keen to go one step further and take the titles in both events.

“We would be the first GB players to do so. We have very much adopted the British doubles system and trusted this, even when things are not going our way. We will see what the finals bring!”

Seventeen-year-old Esah Hayat, who will also contest Friday’s boys’ singles semi-finals, said:

“I’m really pleased to have made the men’s doubles final. We came through some very tough matches and I’m hoping to go one better than last year in the Dresse Cup and get my first men’s senior gold medal. I’m also very excited to go out there again tomorrow in the junior singles and doubles events.”

Phoebe Suthers has a busy two days ahead. She will contest the girls’ singles semi-final and junior mixed doubles semi-final alongside Hayat on Friday, as well as the senior mixed doubles final.

Phoebe said:

“I’m very, very pleased with the mixed doubles result and I couldn’t be more delighted to be in the final and to have a guaranteed medal. Lewis and I have brilliant teamwork which makes anything possible. Val and I did extremely well to get to the women’s doubles semi-finals and it’s all to play for for the bronze medal.”

Four years ago Esah Hayat became the first ever World Champion in boys’ singles, when the inaugural World Deaf Tennis Championships for individuals was staged on British soil, in Nottingham. Hayat plays Russian Vladislav Abramov on Friday for a place in this year’s final.

Phoebe Suthers won the bronze medal in the girls’ singles in 2015 and the reigning women’s singles national champion plays Japan’s Riko Suzuki in Friday’s semi-finals in a bid to reach the gold medal match.

Fourth seeds Valerie Copenhagen and Phoebe Suthers will play French top seeds Marine Beney and Lucie Boulestreau for the women’s doubles bronze medal after both partnerships were beaten by Japanese team in their respective semi-finals. 

For updates and results throughout the Championships, head to the LTA’s Deaf Tennis Facebook page or keep up to date via the Championship’s official website.

Photo credit: LTA 

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