Players from East Midlands Special Olympics Tennis Group clinched four singles gold medals on home soil as Nottingham hosted its annual Learning Disability Tennis Tournament for the fourth successive year over the weekend of 10-11 August.
A total of 37 players from Special Olympics regions across England, Scotland and Wales took part in the event, which was once again supported by the Tennis Foundation and a grant from BetFair via Special Olympics Great Britain.
The annual tournament provided a timely chance for players to hone their skill as many of them will represent their regions when tennis is one of 12 sports that will be contested at the Special Olympics GB National Summer Games in Bath from 28 August to 1 September.
Michael Clarke won the gold medal in men’s singles Group 2, finishing ahead of Alex Eustace and Peter Norton as players who train at West Bridgford Tennis Club won all three medals in the event.
Matthew Chilvers and Aiden Leighton won the men’s singles Group 4 and Group 5 gold medals, while Steven Uttley also won the Group 7 gold medal.
Clarke and Eustace both won a brace of medals at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece, where there Great Britain team mates also included Welshman Shain Lewis, Lucy Porteus, from the Scottish Border, and West Midlands’ Jayne Hinett.
Lewis, who earlier this summer won a doubles bronze medal for Great Britain at the INAS World Tennis Championships for elite athletes with a learning disability, won the men’s singles Group 1 gold medal at Nottingham There was further success for Wales when Stephen Davies won the men’s singles Group 3 gold medal.
Porteus and Hinett had to settle for the women’s singles Group 1 silver and bronze medals respectively as Lauren Waddell won gold to claim a medal for the Scottish Borders.
East Midlands’ Katherine Ashcroft won the silver medal in the women’s singles Group 2 event behind Special Olympics Eastern Group athlete Sarah Simpson.
Porteus and Waddell teamed up to win gold in the women’s doubles Group 1 event , while there were also gold medals for Scottish players in the men’s doubles Group 1 and Group 2 events. Scotland West’s Sean Campbell partnered Lewis to win Group 1, while Scotland West duo Nathan Haddow and Garry Hamilton won doubles gold in Group 2.
There was a another gold medal-winning performance for the East Midlands Group in the men’s doubles Group 3 event, courtesy of Scott Brown and Steven Uttley, while West Midlands players Ciaran and Tomos Bevan added to silver and gold medal-winning singles performances respectively to win gold together in the men’s doubles Group 4.
“The annual tournament at Nottingham has traditionally been held earlier in the year, but this year the wintry weather meant that we had to reschedule the dates,” said coach Lesley Whitehead, the Technical Advisor for Tennis for Special Olympics Great Britain. “Despite the change of dates we still had a fantastic turn out and the timing has worked well for many of the players training for the Special Olympics National Summer Games in Bath, where we expect another fantastic competition in a few weeks.”