Mathe and Oddone Net British Open Deaf Tennis Titles

Barbara received her trophy from Sir Geoffrey Cass
Barbara received her trophy from Sir Geoffrey Cass

Submitted by Guido Giovanetti, ICSD Technical Director- Tennis

13th August 2006
by Marshall Thomas

Barbara Oddone of Italy and Gabor Mathe of Hungary both defied windy conditions to win the Men’s and Women’s Singles titles during Saturday’s final day of the 3rd British Open Deaf Tennis Championships at the City of Nottingham Tennis Centre.

Eighth seed Mathe, who had reached the final after four successive straight sets victories, including a quarter-final win over National champion Peter Willcox, took control of Saturday’s final against unseeded Australian Glen Flindell from the start, establishing a 4-0 lead before Flindell finally managed to clinch his first game.  Having beaten four seeds to reach the final, including top seed and defending champion Anthony Sinclair in the quarter-finals, Flindell was nevertheless unable to get back in to the first set, which the impressive talented Hungarian won 6-1.

After being broken in the first game of the second set Flindell managed to hold his next two service games.  However, Mathe’s consistency proved to be a telling factor and the Hungarian earned a double break cushion in the seventh game of the set before serving out on his second match point for a 6-1, 6-2 win.  This British Open is Mathe’s first major international deaf title, his previous best being runner-up at last year’s Austrian Open.

In the Women’s Singles five-time Summer Deaflympics champion Oddone maintained her phenomenal win record in international deaf tournaments when she eased past German third seed Heike Albrecht.  Albrecht, in her first international deaf singles final, matched Oddone as both players gained two service breaks apiece in the first six games.  However, another break for Oddone in the eighth game was enough to swing the momentum in her favour as she then served out the set.

Having lost her first set of tennis for many a year in similarly windy conditions in Friday’s semi-final against Briton Beth Simmons, Oddone continued to cope better with the wind in the second set, swiftly opening up a 5-0 lead before being broken when serving for the match.  However, having broken the Italian’s serve Albrecht was unable to hold her own in the next game and Oddone converted her first match point to clinch the title 6-3, 6-1 on her first visit to the British Open.

There was British interest in both the Men’s and Women’s Doubles finals, but a home success in any of the Open events proved.

In The Men’s Doubles Mathe collected his second title of the day when he partnered Mario Kargl of Austria to a 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over National champions and top seeds Sinclair (Crawfordsburn, Northern Ireland) and Willcox (Tiverton, Devon).

In the Ladies Doubles final former National champions Helen Cota (Doncaster, South Yorkshire) and Sally Smithley had a 4-0 first set lead against the Italian pairing of Oddone and Suzanna Ricci Bitti, but their efforts ultimately proved to no avail as Oddone also collected her second title of the day as she and Ricci Bitti came back to seal a 7-5, 6-2 win.

The Mixed Doubles final was an all-German affair between second seeds Tatjana Hebing and Gunnar Kett and Albrecht and Urs Breitenberger, with the unseeded pairing of Albrecht and Breitenberger securing a 6-4, 6-3 triumph.

The all-British Junior Boys Singles final was won by Jamie King (Southampton, Hampshire), who came from 2-4 down in the second set against Max Thorne (Dunstable, Bedfordshire) to seal a 6-2, 6-4 triumph.  King and Thorne then paired up to win the Junior Doubles final, defeating Shaun O’Brien (Liverpool, Merseyside) and Michael Hadley (Wimborne, Dorset) 6-1, 6-0.

The Juniors Girls Singles was won by Shilpi Jaiswal from India, who beat Fatima Tebibel of Sweden   6-0, 6-2 in the final.  Jaiswal, playing in her first deaf tournament, has been playing Futures events in India.  Earlier in the week she had dropped one just game in her two round robin girls singles matches against
Meanwhile, the Over 35 Singles title went to Jay Smithley of the United States, the winner of the Men’s Singles at the 1st British Open Deaf Tennis Championships in 1999.  In the final Smithley beat Pier Paulo Ricci Bitti of Italy 7-5, 6-2.

Ricci Bitti and his Belgian partner Eric Sonnemans later won the Over 35 Doubles final, beating the British pairing of William Lewis (Alton, Hampshire) and Bryan Whalley (North Harrow, Middlesex) 1-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Eighty of the world’s leading deaf tennis players, representing 13 nations, have been contesting the 3rd British Open Deaf Tennis Championships this week.  Organised by the British Tennis Foundation in association with the British Deaf Tennis Association and UK Deaf Sport, the British Open was sanctioned by the International Committee for Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) and the European Deaf Sports Organization (EDSO) and was therefore an eligible tournament for players to gain points towards the International Deaf Tennis Ranking System.

The 3rd British Open Deaf Tennis Championships has been supported by Nottingham City Council, Owen Brown (Tents) Ltd, Gallowglass Ltd, Kia Motors and Pennine Spring Water.