Louise Hunt and Dana Mathewson achieved a remarkable victory over Dutch second seeds Marjolein Buis and Aniek van Koot on the first day of competition (14 November) at the wheelchair tennis Doubles Masters in Bemmel, Netherlands.
After snatching an early lead, the 2016 finalists battled back from 5-3 down in the deciding set to eventually complete a 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (5) triumph in Pool B.
The USA’s Mathewson said: “I think there’s a lot to be said for having a strong friendship with someone off the court because that leads to a lot of trust.
“So having that trust in Louise and, I think, her trust in me makes having those really stressful ‘Oh, I’m down 3-5’ moments´ not seem as scary as they do when you’re not with someone you feel completely comfortable with.”
There was no such shock for top seeds Diede de Groot and Lucy Shuker though, as they began their bid to regain the title with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Katharina Kruger and Michaela Spaanstra in Pool A.
“We complement each other really well on a doubles court. Her movement and her ball-striking is so quick and she has such a heavy ball that it gives me time to come to the net and do my thing, as well,” said Shuker.
Buis and van Koot will now face Japan’s Momoko Ohtani and Manami Tanaka in Pool B, while de Groot and Shuker will play Charlotte Famin and Kgothatso Montjane.
Cotterill and Lapthorne survive scare
Great Britain’s top seeds and 2016 quad champions Antony Cotterill and Andy Lapthorne managed to win just one game in the first set against USA’s Bryan Barten and Brazil’s Ymanitu Silva. However, they won the points that mattered in the next two to secure a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
The US pair of Nick Taylor and David Wagner opened their title defence by beating Greg Hasterok and Lucas Sithole 6-2, 6-1.
“It’s always good to get the first one under our belts and get a good feel for the courts here and how we’re going to need to play,” said Taylor.
Local fans had plenty to celebrate in the men’s Pool B contest between Tom Egberink and Maikel Scheffers against Ruben Spaargaren and Jef Vandorpe.
With 17-year-old Belgian Vandorpe the only non-Dutch player on the court, Egberink and Scheffers ultimately found the winning formula against their younger opponents to earn a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 victory.
In the other Pool B match, second seeds Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina and Great Britain’s Gordon Reid put in a confident display against Japan’s Shingo Kunieda and Takashi Sanada to earn a comfortable 6-0, 6-1 win.
Fernandez and Reid will now face Egberink and Scheffers on the second day of play.
Both of Pool A’s opening matches were settled in straight sets.
French top seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer beat Spanish duo Daniel Caverzaschi and Martin de la Puente 6-3, 6-4, while Wimbledon finalists Joachim Gerard and Stefan Olsson raced past South American partnership Agustin Ledesma and Daniel Rodrigues 6-0, 6-1.
Houdet and Peifer will now play Gerard and Olsson.
“It was so different from last week (at Bath Indoor) in terms of the height and width of the courts and the fact that Nico has not played for a month and a half,” said Houdet.
“So we just tried to get more used to the surface and the two younger Spanish players are playing better and better, so it’s very interesting to see the improvement of wheelchair tennis from other countries and we will have to focus (for the rest of the week).”
You can watch all day two’s action live here on the International Paralympic Committee’s website.