Four former men’s singles champions and three former women’s singles champions are among a field of 18 players for the 2013 National Deaf Tennis Championships, which takes place at Gosling High Performance Centre, Welwyn Garden City from 4-6 May.
Organised by the Tennis Foundation, the National Deaf Tennis Championships is the domestic highlight on the deaf tennis calendar and gives experienced and up-and-coming players the chance to compete side-by-side. Players will compete for honours in men’s and women’s singles and doubles, mixed doubles and in a junior event.
This year’s championships will also see members of the National Deaf Tennis Squad aiming to put in eye-catching performances ahead of selection for the Great Britain team for the 22nd Summer Deaflympics, which takes place in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 26 July to 4 August 2013.
Husband and wife Lewis and Catherine Fletcher secured a National Championships doubles in 2012, winning the men’s and women’s singles, before also going on to claim the men’s and women’s doubles titles with their respective doubles partners and partnering each other in the final of the mixed doubles.
Lewis Fletcher won his first men’s singles National Championships title in 2012, beating ten-time champion and top seed Peter Willcox in the final and both players are amongst this year’s star-studded field, alongside four-time former champion Sidney Falconer and two-time champion and Deaflympic medallist Daniel Tunstall.
Catherine Fletcher, also a two-time Deaflympic medallist, was announced this week as the new Great Britain Deaf Tennis Coach. Fletcher returned to the National Championships in 2012 to win her seventh women’s singles title after beating 2010 and 2011 champion Bethany Brookes in a three set final. Beth Simmons, the women’s singles champion in 2005, is also among a strong entry again this year, alongside her twin sister Alex, who was a Deaflympic bronze medallist in the mixed doubles with Tunstall at the 2005 Deaflympics in Melbourne.
Brookes is among a number of Surrey-based players competing again at this year’s event and arrives at this year’s National Championships on the back of winning two medals at last year’s European Championships, where she won gold in the junior girls’ singles and silver alongside Catherine Fletcher in the women’s doubles.
While Lewis and Catherine Fletcher won bronze in the mixed doubles at the 2012 European Championships, Sophie Paul and Jack Clifton were also gold and silver medallists in the junior mixed doubles and junior boy’s singles respectively and both players will take on their elder counterparts in the men’s and women’s singles.
On Saturday, 4 May, the first day of the 2012 National Deaf Tennis Championships, the Tennis Foundation is hosting a Junior Deaf Tennis Day, with coaching in the morning led by Gosling High Performance Centre’s Philip Martin, assisted by former Deaflympian Nick Beese, a three-time National men’s doubles champion, who also returns to play in this year’s National Championships. A junior competition will then take place in the afternoon.
“Gosling High Performance has proved to be a popular home for the National Deaf Tennis Championships in recent years and we delighted to again have the country’s best deaf tennis players not just playing for National titles, but for places in the Great Britain squad for the upcoming Deaflympics,” said Tournament Director Ali Barker. “Alongside this we have exciting opportunities for younger developing players as the Tennis Foundation continues its drive to increase the number of deaf tennis players across the country. “