Great Britain won the silver medal in the Dresse Cup, the men’s competition at the World Deaf Tennis Team Championships, after Esah Hayat and Lewis Fletcher narrowly lost out to second seeds Germany 2-1 in Saturday’s final in Antalya, Turkey.
With Great Britain contesting the Dresse Cup final for just the fourth time in the event’s 58-year history and seeking to win the event for just the second time, 16-year-old Hayat opened the final defeating Germany’s Hans Toedter 6-0, 6-2 to end the competition undefeated in his six singles rubbers.
Victory over Germany in the first of four round-robin group ties had been the catalyst for a remarkable week for the Great Britain men’s team, who won all four of their group ties and Friday’s semi-final against Japan in a deciding double.
One last deciding doubles rubber would settle the Dresse Cup title after Germany’s Urs Breitenberger beat Fletcher 6-3, 6-0 in the second singles. With Fletcher and Hayat recovering from 3-1 down to level the first set at 4-4, Germany eventually snatched the set before play was suspended due to heavy rain. An hour later the players returned to court and Fletcher and Hayat turned a 3-4 deficit into a 5-4 second set lead, but it was not to be and Breitenberger and Toedter ultimately won the doubles 6-4, 7-5.
After wins in 11 of the 12 matches he’d played during his World Deaf Tennis Team Championships debut, 2015 World Junior Champion Hayat said:
“We are gutted to lose be final, but I’m still very proud of our performance this week to come second and to have won all my singles matches. We showed the world how strong we are and I look forward to having more success in future tournaments.”
For 33-year-old Fletcher it was a second Dresse Cup silver medal after he made his debut in the event in 2003, when Great Britain also reached the final against Germany. Fletcher said:
“So close yet so far! That’s the feeling I get today. Before today we were congratulating ourselves for getting to the final. We are very proud of that. But when you get so close, it hurts more. But we both had a great week so we can’t complain. Esah will have learned loads this week and I’m looking forward to more success with him in the doubles in future tournaments.”
Picture courtesy of The Tennis Foundation, with thanks.