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July 3, 2004

O'Donnell-Sinclair Win Deaf Tennis Match

From: Wimbledon, UK - Jul 3, 2004

Saturday, July 3, 2004

Darren O'Donnell and Anthony Sinclair came out on top in an entertaining all-British Deaf Tennis exhibition match on Court 14 today.

In bright but blustery conditions, Sinclair, 19, and O'Donnell, 30, overcame a bad start to beat Daniel Tunstall and Lewis Fletcher 1-6, 6-2 6-1.

It was the first time ever that a Men's Doubles exhibition match was played at the Championships and featured four members of the Great Britain Men's National Deaf Tennis Squad.

Three of the four players, Daniel Tunstall (Pewsey, Wiltshire), Darren O'Donnell (Stockport, Cheshire) and Lewis Fletcher (Farnham, Surrey) were members of the Marsh Team Great Britain Men's team that finished runners-up to Germany in the 2003 Dresse Cup , the Davis Cup of deaf tennis, in Poertschach, Austria, last June.

Anthony Sinclair (Northern Ireland), who missed out on last year's Dresse Cup with an injury, will join Tunstall and O'Donnell in the Marsh Team - Great Britain Men's Team for the European Deaf Tennis Championships, which take place in Pau, France, in two weeks' time (10th - 17th July).

In front of a large crowd, Daniel Tunstall, 25, and Lewis Fletcher, 18, got off to a great start. They held serve with ease and broke their opponents in the third and fifth games with a great exhibition of attacking net play.

Despite a marvellous lob from Sinclair, at 5-1 Fletcher had no trouble closing out the set and at 40-15 hit a well placed serve which Sinclair could only force wide.

From there the result looked inevitable. However, in the second set, O'Donnell and Sinclair raised their game to another level - they started to enforce their game and pushed their opponents into errors, which had been such a rarity in the first set.

The first five games went with serve with all four players contributing to some exciting long rallies. Sinclair and O'Donnell moved ahead when they achieved a break in the sixth game after O'Donnell hit an unstoppable forehand cross-court at an incredible angle.

Tunstall and Fletcher did have an opportunity to break back immediately after some superb returns. However, O'Donnell and Sinclair clung on with some good serving and broke their opponents again to take the set 6-2.

In the third set the momentum stayed firmly with O'Donnell and Sinclair. Tunstall and Fletcher struggled to match their repertoire of shots and often played impatiently, breaking the rally down in the third or fourth stroke with a wild shot.

Sinclair and O'Donnell gained an immediate break of serve at 1-0 after Tunstall netted an easy forehand. Despite some good rallying, they only managed to win one more game and O'Donnell and Sinclair breezed through 6-1.

The event was warmly received by crowd and demonstrated the huge amount of skill that exists within deaf tennis in the UK.

Written by Beci Wood

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