Great Britain’s men’s wheelchair tennis team secured a historic first World Group title on Sunday at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Antalya, Turkey, after Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid gained straight sets wins in their singles rubbers to give Great Britain a 2-0 victory over France.
Great Britain ends the International Tennis Federation’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event, the sport’s version of the Davis and Fed Cups, with two medals after the GB women’s team won bronze on Friday with a 2-0 win over Germany.
Seventeen-year-old Alfie Hewett, who has made his Great Britain senior debut this week, produced a tremendous performance in the opening singles rubber to beat world No.11 Michael Jeremiasz 7-5, 6-1 for his first career victory over the former world No. 1.
British No. 1 and world No. 3 Gordon Reid then swapped the lead several times with world No. 6 Nicolas Peifer in the first set of the second singles rubber, but took command of the tie-break and claimed a 7-6(5), 6-2 victory to win Britain’s first gold medal in the World Group in 30 years of World Team Cup participation.
Last year Reid, Marc McCarroll and David Phillipson, three-quarters of this year’s team, won GB’s first men’s bronze medal since 1989, again captained by Karen Ross.
“Making the transition from juniors to seniors and still being able to perform on this stage, it’s a very special moment,” said Hewett, who’s won his second gold medal in Antalya after leading Great Britain’s junior team to victory in 2013. “I said at the beginning of the week I thought we could win and it has been great to have maintained that belief and to perform to our potential.”
“It feels amazing going into Roland Garros knowing we are World Team Cup champions,” said Reid. ”It has not sunk in yet. Thanks to Karen and all the team who have helped support us this week. It feels great and I think we deserved to win it.”
“It’s been a great team effort,” added McCarroll. “Gordon and Alfie both stepped up today and performed really well. We couldn’t have done this week without the help and support of the Tennis Foundation, UK Sport and the National Lottery. Massive thank you and well done also to Karen, who has captained the team to make history this week. It has been such an honour representing our country at this brilliant event.”
“It’s been absolutely incredible. It’s great to know that we have not only won the juniors twice but we have won World Group II and now the World Group,” said Phillipson, who won Britain's very first match of the week, when beating Ezequiel Casco 6-3, 6-2 in the first singles rubber of the first round-robin pool tie against Argentina before partnering McCarroll to a 6-4, 6-4 victory to complete Britain's 3-0 victory over Belgium en route to the semi-finals. “It was a great performance from the guys and I felt from the start it was going to be a case of whether we won it in two matches or three.”
On Friday, the GB trio of Jordanne Whiley, Lucy Shuker and Louise Hunt clinched their sixth medal in seven years in the women’s World Group, winning bronze after beating Germany 2-0.
“I’m immensely proud of the performances of all of our 13 players this week and to end on a history-making performance from our men caps off a memorable week,” said Geraint Richards, the Tennis Foundation’s Head of Disability Player Performance
“Alfie has played incredibly well on his senior debut for Great Britain after leading the GB junior team to victory here in Antalya just two years ago, and all four GB men’s team members have done their country proud and secured vital wins, with Gordon producing another big performance under pressure today.”
“Our women came in as fourth seeds this year and have bettered that to win yet another medal in the women’s World Group, and in finishing sixth our junior team have also bettered their pre-event seeding of seventh with a largely inexperienced team that includes Josh Cooper and Ruairi Logan making their international debuts. James Shaw has also made his debut in the Great Britain quad team, who finished on a win after a tough week.”
“A big thank you to all our coaches and support staff this week and, of course, very many thanks to UK Sport and the National Lottery for all the continued support for our Performance Programme, which allows us to work towards achieving memorable results like today. We now look forward to continuing along our road to Rio.”
Reid and Whiley now head to Roland Garros for the French Open, with Whiley aiming for her sixth consecutive Grand Slam doubles title with Japanese partner Yui Kamiji. A number of Great Britain’s other performance players are in action this week in either Korea or Poland, with the qualification window for the Rio 2016 Paralympics now open.