1 September 2021
Hewett and Reid close in as Lapthorne and Cotterill miss out
Andy Lapthorne and Antony Cotterill battled weather delays, court switches and an epic late-night finish before falling agonisingly short of Paralympic men’s quad doubles bronze in Tokyo.
The clock had struck 2am in Japan by the time ParalympicsGB’s wheelchair tennis pair hit their final shot but it wasn’t to be a victorious one.
But there were better fortunes for Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid, with the double medallists from Rio 2016 still fighting on both fronts in the men’s singles and doubles.
Lapthorne and Cotterill missed out 7-5 3-6 7-5 against home favourites Mitsuteru Moroishi and Koji Sugeno in a match that lasted more than three hours of playing time.
But their day at the Ariake Tennis Centre was vastly longer, with rain halting the initial staging of the bronze-medal match before they were able to move under the Centre Court roof once the scheduled matches had been completed.
I'm devastated. It's been a long, hard road for us as a team.
Lapthorne said: “I’m devastated. It’s been a long, hard road for us as a team, we’ve got ourselves into some good positions and probably made too many mistakes between us.
“We had some really good periods. We probably lost it at the end of the first set - we had them at 0-40 and then I missed three returns in a row at 6-5 down.
“Those are the things you look back on and the times where you can’t afford to make mistakes.”
Cotterill added: “We both made mistakes. We’re a team, we both made mistakes at the wrong time and fair play to the Japanese, they capitalised on that and deserved to win.
“We play together later in the year, we’ll look forward to that and we’ve had some patches and performances where we’ve been really good.
“We just need to get home and work on cutting out those errors.”
We both made mistakes at the wrong time and fair play to the Japanese, they capitalised on that and deserved to win.
Meanwhile, ParalympicsGB are guaranteed to win at least one men’s singles wheelchair tennis medal after Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett progressed to Thursday’s semi-finals.
Defending champion Reid got the better of higher-ranked Gustavo Fernandez in three sets while a 6-3 6-4 victory over Nicolas Peifer gave Hewett a place in the last four.
A repeat of the Rio 2016 could still be on the cards, with Reid beating ParalympicsGB teammate Hewett to gold on that occasion five years ago.
“He seems to be playing some really good tennis so it wouldn’t surprise me if he reaches it but we’ve both got real tough matches next,” said Hewett.
From doubles friends to singles foes for Alfie Hewett?
“We’re part of a team this week but for two Brits to reach the final is what we all want.”
Hewett, seeded second the tournament in Tokyo, will face Tom Egberink for a place in the gold-medal match.
Reid has a major semi-final in store with top seed and home favourite Shingo Kunieda the man on the other side of the net.
Just getting to the last four was a challenge in itself having recovered from being 4-0 down in the first set to get the better of Argentina’s Fernandez.
The Scot is the defending champion from Rio but when it comes to gold-medal contenders, he still feels his name remains out of the picture.
Jordanne Whiley will be in singles and doubles action on Thursday
“I still believe it. I’m playing the world No.1 tomorrow, the guy who’s probably the favourite. He’s playing at home, so I’m still the underdog and I’m loving it,” he said.
“We’ve seen it in tennis millions of times that the score can change around quickly so I’m really proud of myself how I held that together psychologically in the first set and how I recovered after losing the second as well.”
Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker were due to be in women’s doubles semi-final action but their bid for medals was temporarily scuppered by the bad weather in Japan.
Whiley now has both singles and doubles semi-finals to look forward to on Thursday, knowing that one victory in the day would guarantee her a Paralympic medal.
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