Great Britain have won the silver medal in the Dresse Cup, the men’s competition at the World Deaf Tennis Team Championships, after Esah Hayat (East Finchley, London) and Lewis Fletcher (Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire) narrowly lost out to second seeds Germany 2-1 in Saturday’s final in Antalya, Turkey.
With Great Britain contesting the Dresse Cup final for just the fourth time in the event’s 58-year history and seeking to win the event for just the second time, 16-year-old Hayat opened the final in the same way he began Great Britain’s campaign in Antalya a week earlier, defeating Germany’s Hans Toedter 6-0, 6-2 to end the competition undefeated in his six singles rubbers.
Victory over Germany in the first of four round-robin group ties had been the catalyst for a remarkable week for the Great Britain men’s team, who won all four of their group ties and Friday’s semi-final against Japan in a deciding doubles.
One last deciding doubles rubber would settle the Dresse Cup title after Germany’s Urs Breitenberger beat Fletcher 6-3, 6-0 in the second singles. With Fletcher and Hayat recovering from 3-1 down to level the first set at 4-4, Germany eventually snatched the set before play was suspended due to heavy rain. An hour later the players returned to court and Fletcher and Hayat turned a 3-4 deficit into a 5-4 second set lead, but it was not to be and Breitenberger and Toedter ultimately won the doubles 6-4, 7-5.
After wins in 11 of the 12 matches he’d played during his World Deaf Tennis Team Championships debut, 2015 World Junior Champion, Esah Hayat said:
“We are gutted to lose be final, but I’m still very proud of our performance this week to come second and to have won all my singles matches. We showed the world how strong we are and I look forward to having more success in future tournaments.”
For 33-year-old Fletcher it was a second Dresse Cup silver medal after he made his debut in the event in 2003, when Great Britain also reached the final against Germany. Lewis Fletcher said:
“So close yet so far! That’s the feeling I get today. Before today we were congratulating ourselves for getting to the final. We are very proud of that. But when you get so close, it hurts more. But we both had a great week so we can’t complain. Esah will have learned loads this week and I’m looking forward to more success with him in the doubles in future tournaments.
“We also need to say a massive thanks to the support team here, too. Cathy (Fletcher – Team Manager and Captain), Alex Cockram (Team Captain) and Andy Graham (Sports Therapist)! Without them we would never have been fit and fresh for each match! Also a big thanks to the Tennis Foundation, as always, for their support behind the scenes and in enabling us to have this set up.”
With the Great Britain women’s team of Phoebe Suthers and Valerie Copenhagen finishing sixth in the Maere Cup, the women’s world team competition, as both players also made their debuts in the event, Tennis Foundation National Deaf Tennis Coach Catherine Fletcher, said:
“This week has been unbelievable – the men did extremely well to make the final. They should be so proud of themselves for coming away with silver. The women were also one point away from making the semi-finals, so we must also congratulate their efforts too. And I’d like to say a big thank you to the Tennis Foundation for their support and also to my immediate support team, Alex and Andy – this week was a real team effort and I’m so proud to be British and deaf.”