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January 15, 2004


From: Exeter Express, UK - Jan 15, 2004


Tiverton's National Deaf champion Peter Willcox is a young man on a mission after run of success that has the 22-year-old intent on playing in the 2005 World Deaf Games in Australia. A self-imposed training schedule and some outstanding results of late, including tournament wins in Derbyshire and Newport, have put the Great Britain international firmly in the frame for the Melbourne showpiece.

The three-times National champion - he regained his title in Cardiff last May and starred for Great Britain in the Dresse Cup in Austria a month later - enjoyed a stunning run at Alfreton (Derbys) which began with the defeat of former Torbay Open winner Ashley Broomhead 6-1, 6-7 retired.

In the second round, Willcox beat long-time friend Graham Piggot 7-5, 2-0 with the Staffordshire player retiring with badly blistered fingers.

Victories over Charles Crisp 7-6, 4-6, 7-5 and Julian Harrison 6-2, 6-0 took Willcox into the final where he beat Adam Maskell 6-1, 6-2.

The Devonian then won in Newport without conceding a set and this week fell just one win away from the main draw at the British Tour event at Sutton after beating Jonathan Cooper 6-1, 5-7, 6-0.

It is a measure of his growing confidence that Willcox, having led 4-1 in the second set, bounced back superbly to dominate the rest of the match.

"I just didn't make any unforced errors at all," he said.

A punishing fitness programme has made Willcox stronger than ever and his mental toughness has seen him beat 80 per cent of those opponents who are two-ratings higher. He has yet to lose to any player who is just one above him.

Tournament commitments excluded Willcox from the British Deaf training camp in Nottingham at the weekend, but his displays of late are proving an inspiration to the whole squad.

Peter's father, Roger, speaking from the family home at Rackenford, described his son as very single-minded about his training.

"Peter does work very hard and you have to be very dedicated like this to be any good. To be the best you have to do all the work and be almost obsessive about it."

Before the winter is over, Willcox will travel to La Manga, Spain, for warm weather training with the National Deaf squad.

In May he will defend his National singles title and attempt to win the doubles for the fifth time in a row.

The European Championships in June are in Southern France from where he hopes that all roads lead to Australia in January, 2005.

Exeter Junior Open champion and top Devon prospect Jack Findel-Hawkins served up some wonderful displays on his way to the 10-and-under final at the LTA Grand Prix Winter Junior Indoor Tournament in Swindon.

The nine-year-old St Joseph's schoolboy from Exmouth was among a top class entry from all over the UK and, in his first big event, he beat second seed Oliver Plaskett (Dorset) 3-6, 6-4, 10-5, Sam Smith (Wales) 6-2, 6-1 and Charlie Farres (Hampshire) 7-5, 6-3.

In the final, Findel-Hawkins came up against Jonathan Cornish (Essex) and there was no disgrace for the reigning Teignmouth Open winner in losing 6-0, 6-1.

The two-day event was a big milestone for the youngster and to get so far and beat two-higher-rated rivals was a great confidence booster.

© Northcliffe Electronic Publishing Ltd.