IM this article to a friend!

July 8, 2004

Strong GB Squad Set For European Deaf Tennis Championships

From: The Lawn Tennis Association, UK - Jul 8, 2004

European Deaf Tennis Championships
Pau, France
(10-17 July 2004)

A strong Marsh Team GB squad of eight players will bid for glory at the 10th European Deaf Tennis Championships, which take place in Pau, France, from July 10 - 17.

Britain will field four players in each of the Men's and Women's events, with seven of the eight squad members having already enjoyed great success while representing Marsh Team GB at last summer's Dresse & Maere Cups, the Davis and Fed Cups of Deaf tennis, in Poertschach, Austria.

The Marsh Team GB Men's team for the European Championships includes reigning National champion Peter Willcox (Tiverton, Devon), Anthony Sinlcair (Belfast, Northern Ireland), Daniel Tunstall (Pewsey, Wiltshire, originally from St Andrews, Scotland) and Darren O'Donnell (Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire).

Sinclair, Tunstall and O'Donnell joined the team's non-travelling reserve Lewis Fletcher (Farnham, Surrey) for last Saturday's historic first ever deaf tennis exhibition match to take place at The Championships, Wimbledon.

The Marsh Team GB Women's team for the European Championships includes Catherine Graham (Yaddlethorpe, Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire), twins Alex and Beth Simmons (Marcham, Oxfordshire) and Sharon Templeman (Wrexham, North Wales, originally from Winsford, Cheshire).

Last summer this same quartet combined to win the 2003 Maere Cup, the women's World Deaf Tennis Championship, in Austria. This is the only the second time that Great Britain has won the Maere Cup in the event's 35-year history.

In recognition of this achievement, the quartet were honoured at last Wednesday's Marsh Team GB Awards at Wimbledon. The award ceremony, staged at the President's Suite at the All England Club and attended by a strong contingent from the LTA including Performance Director David Felgate, recognised the most outstanding British Teams that competed in international tennis events over the past twelve months.

Both Catherine Graham and Sharon Templeman were able to collect their Marsh Team GB Awards in person from Bruce Carnegie-Brown, Chief Executive of the world's leading insurance and risk management company, and Charles Trippe, President of the Lawn Tennis Association. National Deaf Tennis Squad Coaches Roger and Julie Jones accepted awards on behalf of Alex and Beth Simmons, who were unable to attend the ceremony.

While the Marsh Team GB Women's team enjoyed victory in the 2003 Maere Cup in Austria last summer, the Marsh Team GB Men's team of Willcox, Tunstall, O'Donnell and Fletcher simultaneoulsy produced a magnificent performance in the Dresse Cup, the Men's World Deaf Tennis Championship. The British men finished runners-up to top seeds Germany, their appearance in the final marking only the third time Great Britain has reached the Dresse Cup final in the event's 44-year history. Fletcher came into the team at short notice to replace Sinclair, who was unable to travel due to an ankle injury.

Team GB will face opposition from Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey at the European Championships in Pau, with competition set to take place in Men's and Women's Singles and Doubles and Mixed Doubles events.

At the last European Championships in Kottingbrunn, Austria, in 2000, Tunstall won a Bronze medal with fellow Briton Helen Schofield in the Mixed Doubles, while Britain also won another Bronze in the Ladies Doubles, courtesy of Helen Schofield and Fiona Brookes.

The 10th European Chamionships are a vitally important event for all the players as they look forward to challenging for selection later this year for the 2005 Deaflympics, the Olympic Games of deaf sport, which take place in Melbourne, Australia, in January.

Sue Wolstenholme, Director of the British Tennis Foundation, said: "After such marvellous results at last year's Dresse and Maere Cups in Austria, we are hoping for more fine performances from our players in Pau. Last Saturday's deaf tennis exhibition match at Wimbledon was a tremendous experience for several members of the team and a superb opportunity to showcase deaf tennis, and will undoubtedly see the squad leave for Pau in good heart."

[08.07.04 - Report by Marshall Thomas]

© LTA Copyright 2003