Top seeds off to strong start at Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships

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    Philippe Bedard

    Following a very full day on the courts at the UBC Tennis Centre in Vancouver, the first day of the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships is in the books with the top seeds all posting victories on Thursday.

    Philippe Bedard, three-time defending champion and top seed in the men’s draw, lost just one game in two matches to take the early lead in his group. He defeated Jason Betker 6-0, 6-1 and Thomas Venos 6-0, 6-0 and will play his final two round-robin matches on Friday.

    Also posting two wins on the day were No. 3 seed Marko Golic, No. 5 seed Jean-Francois Sylvestre, and Scott Patterson, who now lead their respective groups. Two more No. 3 and No. 5 seeds, Richard Peter and Tomas Bourassa, are currently tied for the lead in Group C with identical 1-0 records, while No. 2 seed Jean-Paul Melo is 1-0 in Group B thanks to a 6-0, 6-2 victory opposite fellow Quebecer Francis Chevalier.

    In the quad division, No. 1 seed Rob Shaw opened his campaign with a triumph, ousting British Columbia’s Sarah Hunter 6-2, 6-4. Hunter, a former world No. 2, now sits with a 1-1 record as she did pick up a win in her first match, defeating Mika Ishikawa 6-1, 6-1.

    “I felt really good on the court today,” Shaw said. “Sarah is obviously a very good opponent and we played each other a few weeks ago and it was a really long three-set match. I took a lot of good points home from that match that I’ve been working on with my new coach, and I feel like I’m starting to really translate what we’re working on into matches and it showed today.”

    Shaw, from North Bay, Ont. and the highest-ranked player in the tournament this week at world No. 24, is looking for his second national championship after taking home his maiden crown last year.

    “I think getting my first national title under my belt relieved a lot of pressure. I expected to have more pressure now that I’m defending it, but I actually feel very calm on the court. I feel like last year I earned the title, and as long as I let my game do the talking I can compete with these players out here.”

    No. 2 seed Gary Luker sits comfortably atop Group B, as he captured two wins on Thursday. First, he defeated Ryan Schweizer 6-1, 6-0 before earning another strong victory 6-0, 6-1 against Peter Isherwood.

    Only two women’s matches were on the docket on Thursday, with British Columbia’s Yuka Chokyu and Kirsten Sharp both posting triumphs. The No. 1 and 2 seeds Tara Llanes and Maude Jacques will open their tournaments on Friday.

    For the complete updated draws and schedule of play, please click here. Round-robin play will conclude on Friday, with the athletes then split into draws to contest for final positions over the weekend.

    The Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships, one of the biggest and most important tournaments held in Canada each year, run from October 27-30 at the UBC Tennis Centre in Vancouver. Admission is free for all to come and watch some high-quality wheelchair tennis.

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