Egor Panyushkin of Russia and Beatriz Villamandos-Lorenzo of Spain were crowned men’s and women’s singles champion as the 1st World Deaf Tennis Championships drew to a close on Sunday at Nottingham Tennis Centre.
Panyushkin, who started the tournament as third seed and beat French second seed Mikael Laurent in his semi-final, won five games in a row to take the opening set of the men’s singles final against French fourth seed Vincent Novelli.
Playing in only his fourth deaf tennis tournament after making his Deaflympics debut in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2013, 21-year-old Panyushkin then dropped just the fifth game of the second set as he wrapped up a 6-2, 6-1 victory.
“It feels good being World Champion, I think it needs to sink in a bit and I will feel even better about it later,” said Panyushkin. “Mentally the match was tough because I was afraid to lose. Because it was the finals I told myself I couldn’t lose so I felt some pressure, but after about 20 minutes on court I relaxed and just played my game.
“I was hoping for a medal when I came over here; however my coach was expecting me to win so there was some pressure from him. But as soon as I went on the court all the pressure went and I relaxed and I just had a good time.”
“I’m going to go back to Moscow and have some time off and celebrate before I go back to America to study. I’m going to see my girlfriend and then I’ll also spend time with my parents. My parents have been following my matches this week and wishing me luck so it will be nice to celebrate with them.”
Second seed Mikael Laurent of France won the men’s singles bronze medal after defeating Hungarian top seed Gabor Mathe 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(2).
Fourth seed Villamandos-Lorenzo came back from 2-0 against unseeded American Emily Hangstefer in the women’s singles final to force a first set tie-break after Hangstefer had a set point at 5-4 up on the Spanish fourth seed’s serve. Hangstefer then took a 3-0 lead in the tie-break, only to lose it 7-5.
Thereafter, Villamandos-Lorenzo built a commanding 5-0 second set lead and eventually went on to lift the inaugural world title 7-6(5), 6-3.
“This is my first international gold medal and it’s really inspirational,” said Villamandos-Lorenzo. “When I arrived a week ago I saw the draw and I knew I was in for a big challenge and I knew I had to be mentally strong on court. When I got to the final I couldn’t believe it and this is such a big achievement for me.”
The women’s doubles world title went to Chinese Taipei second seeds Chui-Mei Ho and Chia-Wen Lin, who beat American top seeds and 2013 Deaflympic champions Laura Chapman and Hangstefer 6-4, 6-4. Chapman and Hangstefer won their Deaflympic gold medal in Sofia against a Chinese Taipei partnership in 2013, when Ho paired up with her sister. Ho also won the women’s singles bronze medal.
The World Championships came to a thrilling conclusion when second seeds Laurent and Novelli edged out Austrian third seeds Mario Kargl and Robert Gravogl 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(2) in the men’s doubles final.
More than 70 players from 20 countries have contested the 1st World Deaf Tennis Championships.
Organised by the Tennis Foundation, Great Britain’s leading tennis charity, in association with UK Deaf Sport, the 1st World Deaf Tennis Championships were sanctioned by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD).
Full results are available at www.worlddeaftennischamps.co.uk.