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Wheelchair Tennis

2012 Midwest Wheelchair Championships Highlights Four Paralympians Heading to London

Val Wallace
Jose Gomex
Midwest Wheelchair Championships Doubles
Midwest Wheelchair Championships Doubles
July 13-15, 2012 Grand Rapids, Michigan USA  experienced some hot weather this past weekend with temperatures averaging in the high 80’s all weekend but the players from the south didn’t seem to mind! This was our 4th year at the beautiful outdoor tennis facility at the Orchard Hills Tennis Center in Grand Rapids, MI.   This is home of the Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association  It is a beautiful site to host an event with 12 outdoor courts (4 stadium courts with lights) and up to 8 indoor courts where the Quad division was held.  Players, families and guests are also invited to use the water park onsite, which makes for a great family tournament and a place to cool off!

The tournament, part of the NEC Wheelchair tennis tour and an ITF 3 level tournament offering a total of $11,500 in total prize money is known for its great volunteers and hospitality and well run professional event.  We staff every court with 2 ball runners per court and use area tennis academy students.  The tournament kicked off on Thursday night with a pro exhibition featuring Joel Dembe the #1 player from Canada  and Steve Welch # 1 player from the USA  playing in an 8 game pro-set featuring up/down doubles with two local head tennis pros from the facility.  

In the women’s open divisions, # 1 seed Emmy Kaiser from Ft. Mitchell, KY defeated the #2 seed Mackenzie Soldan who recently moved with her family to Midland, MI where she grew up in a grueling 3rd set 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.  Both Emmy and Mackenzie are headed to London this fall and it was great to see them battle it out both as competitors and then turn around and pair up for doubles and focus on their game together.  They won the womens doubles division as well.

In the Men’s Open division, things fell nicely for the #1 seed Steve Welch coming out on top by defeating the #2 seed Joel Dembe from Canada in the finals 6-0, 6-1.  Both men are also heading to London later this fall. 
In the Quad Division, it was unseeded newcomer from Grand Rapids Matthew DeVlieger who came out victorious as he faced the top Canadian player Gary Luker from Canada in a tough singles battle but came out on top with a score of 6-4, 6-4.

In the lettered divisions, Grand Rapids players faired well overall with some champs claiming the Mens A singles title with #1 seed Kevin Green getting upset by Scott Bonk by a score of 6-1, 6-2.    In the Mens B division, Grand Rapids own Pat Besta the #1 seed came out on top by defeating Nick Burnham from N. Carolina  in the finals with scores of 6-4, 6-4.  In the Mens C division Earl Jordan defeated David Briggs from Grand Rapids in a third set tiebreak match.   In the womens A division, Krystal Kelley scored a surprised upset as a new up and coming junior defeated the #1seed Denise Esrey also in a third set tiebreak. 

This year Grand Rapids included a recreational novice division which 4 players participated in their first ever doubles only round robin format which gave them their first taste at a mini tournament which went over great, they are hoping to expand it for 2013.

70 athletes competed from all across the United States including Canada.  We had 20 local Grand Rapids players participate this year the highest ever!  A great event and we look forward to next year.  


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