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July 12, 2004

GB Quintet Reach Quarter-Finals At Deaf Tennis Championships

From: The Lawn Tennis Association, UK - Jul 12, 2004

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

Five players from the eight-strong Marsh Team GB squad for the 10th European Deaf Tennis Championships reached the quarter-finals of either the Men's or Women's Singles events following a successful opening weekend to the Championships in Pau, France.

In the Men's Singles, Peter Willcox (Tiverton, Devon) and Anthony Sinclair (Belfast, Northern Ireland), the two finalists at this year's National Deaf Championships at Cardiff in May, both had first round byes in Pau.

Reigning National Champion Willcox then had a comfortable 6-1, 6-2 win over Adrien Faure of France to earn a place in the last eight against Daniel Erlbacher of Austria. Meanwhile, Sinclair defeated Thomas Deschenaux of Switzerland in the last 16 and now face a tough quarter-final against Germany's Gunmar Kett.

Team GB's Darren O'Donnell (Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire) was in sparkling form in his first round match, defeating Turkey's Kaygisiz Murat 6-0, 6-0. However, O'Donnell then had the misfortune of coming up against German top seed Ronald Oliver-Krieg, the Men's Singles Silver medallist from the 2001 Deaflympics in Rome, who defeated O'Donnell 6-3, 6-0.

There was early disappointment for Team GB's Daniel Tunstall (Pewsey, Wiltshire, originally from St Andrews, Scotland). The Wiltshire-based Scot, who is head tennis coach at Devizes Sports Club, went down 6-3, 6-3 to Mario Kargl of Austria in the opening round.

Two-time National Champion Catherine Graham (Yaddlethorpe, Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire) is top seed for the Women's Singles and has received a bye into the quarter-finals, where she is joined by 17-year-old twins Alex and Beth Simmons (Marcham, Oxfordshire).

Graham will face team mate Beth Simmons in the last eight after the Oxfordshire player made a splendid recovery in her first round match, overcoming early nerves to defeat Annika Mierke of Germany 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. The clash between the two Britons in the quarter-finals will be a repeat of the Women's Singles final at this year's National Championships, in which Graham was the victor.

Meanwhile, Alex Simmons was in scintillating form in her opening match as she breezed past Maja Turkovic of Croatia without dropping a single game. Alex will now take on Swiss second seed Klarika Heimann Schumi in the quarter-finals.

The Marsh Team GB Women's team for the European Championships is this same quartet which combined to win the 2003 Maere Cup, the women's World Deaf Tennis Championship, in Austria, last summer. This is the only the second time that Great Britain has won the Maere Cup in the event's 35-year history.

Meanwhile, also in Austria last year, Willcox, Tunstall and O'Donnell were three members of the four-strong Marsh Team GB Men's team that 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.

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

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 Championships 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.

[12.07.04 - Report by Marshall Thomas]

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