Antony Cotterill and Andy Lapthorne ended Nick Taylor and David Wagner’s hopes of a 10th UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters quad title on Sunday (6 November) when the Brits sprung a surprise result in Mission Viejo, California.
Elsewhere, on a thrilling last day of competition when all three finals went to a deciding set, Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medallists Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer of France justified top seeding in the men’s doubles and first-time partnership Diede de Groot of the Netherlands and Lucy Shuker of Great Britain clinched the women’s doubles title.
With the quad doubles starting as a four-way round-robin competition, Cotterill and Lapthorne had had to retire from their pool match against Taylor and Wagner earlier in the week when Lapthorne was unwell.
However, the British duo bounced back strongly in the final to snatch the first set 7-5 before Taylor and Wagner gained firm control of the match in the second. As in the opening set, Cotterill and Lapthorne gained an early break in the decider, only for Taylor and Wagner to level proceedings after eight games, but the second seeds held on to close out a 7-5 1-6 6-4 victory.
Lapthorne is now a two-time Doubles Masters champion, having also won the title in 2010 partnering Peter Norfolk. The victory gave Rio Paralympian Cotterill one of the biggest successes of his career.
Houdet and Peifer hold on to lift men’s title
Stephane Houdet gained his fifth Doubles Masters men’s title with his fifth different partner as he and Peifer fought back from a set down to beat Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez and Joachim Gerard of Belgium 26 63 75.
Gerard had won the Doubles Masters title in 2014, partnering Houdet, and a second title in Mission Viejo looked a distinct possibility as he and Fernandez built on a 3-0 lead to take the opening set. However, the Rio 2016 Paralympic champions dominated the second half of the second set to force a decider.
Houdet and Peifer subsequently broke serve at the start of the deciding set, only for Fernandez and Gerard to win the next three games.
The momentum swung from one team to the other in the closing stages but with Fernandez visibly upset by a line call that went against he and Gerard, Houdet and Peifer kept up the pressure to become the second all-French partnership to win the men’s Doubles Masters title after Houdet partnered Michael Jeremiasz to victory in 2007.
De Groot and Shuker cap rookie week with victory
Rio women’s doubles silver medallist Diede de Groot and bronze medallist Lucy Shuker had never played together in competition before arriving in Mission Viejo and their rookie week as partners came to a memorable conclusion.
With Brits on either side of the net, de Groot and Shuker clinched the last three games of the opening set of their final against Louise Hunt and USA’s Dana Mathewson. The Anglo-American duo started and finished the second set the stronger and then put together a sequence of four games to move a break up in the deciding set. However, the momentum shifted back to the top seeds, who wrapped up a narrow 63 46 64 victory.
Whilst Shuker finally gained a Doubles Masters title in her fourth final in the event, de Groot also became the latest Dutchwoman to add her name to the roll of honour.