Barten, Mathewson Take Trophies
in 2021 Debut in Loughborough
Victoria Chiesa | March 28, 2021
In action for the first time in 2021, Bryan Barten and Dana Mathewson left Loughborough with hardware.
At the ITF 2 Series event on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour last week, Barten won the singles and doubles titles in the Quad division while Mathewson finished as runner-up in women’s singles, earning the best win of her career along the way.
Victorious in three sets in both the semifinals and final, Barten beat a pair of Brits, James Shaw (2-6, 6-0, 6-2) and Antony Cotterill (4-6, 6-0, 7-5), to claim the singles title, and also partnered Israel's Yosi Saadon to win the doubles event thanks to an undefeated round-robin record.
“Winning this tournament was a truly emotional experience. It was so great to get back to live matches after being away from it for over a year,” Barten told usta.com on Sunday. ADVERTISEMENT "I'm just really happy to have won. It was a goal that I was working towards for a year, and to see it right there in front of me is really rewarding. It's probably one of the most memorable titles I've won in my career just because of that time off."
Having not played since last March, Barten said he used the hiatus brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic hiatus to get fully healthy, as he had been managing a neck injury he suffered in 2018 over much of the past two seasons.
"I felt really confident coming in, like, 'I could win this.' I felt good about how I was playing and physically and mentally... but the pressure was definitely on. I just spent a year doing all of this work, but what I realized while I was over there is that everyone has been training hard," he said.
"The two guys that I played are great competitors, but usally, I would like to see them in my draw. Playing them, I'm like, 'These guys did some work, too. They're doing things they couldn't do a year ago,' and I congratulate them on that. I think everyone's games have really elevated. Thankfully, we all had tennis to focus on in this time, and these guys definitely did their work."
Ranked No. 12 in the world in the Quad division, Barten has aspirations of qualifying for the Tokyo Paralympics, which begin in August. He's bidding to reach his third Games, having also qualified in 2012 and 2016.
"This title is huge for me [looking towards Tokyo.] Our cutoff is in June, so the [ranking] points are huge for me and it gives me a little bit of a cushion," Barten said. "I'm hoping to have three more tournaments before the cut-off, so I still have to get out there and perform. This definitely helps and gives me a bit of breathing room for that qualifying spot."
In the women's draw, Mathewson won three matches as the No. 3 seed, which included a 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 upset of No. 2 seed and 12-time Grand Slam champion Jordanne Whiley in the semifinals. Mathewson had previously been 0-4 against Whiley, having never won a set.
In the final, the American was beaten by top seed Aniek van Koot, 6-3, 6-2, in what was nonetheless her first tour-level singles final since September of 2018. Mathewson also reached the semifinals in doubles alongside Germany's Katharina Kruger.
"After six months of not competing, and the longest training block ever, I’m really happy to have made it to the singles final at Loughborough this week," Mathewson added. "Winning the bigger trophy would have been nice, but I’m so happy to see the results of all the work I’ve been putting in."
Also representing Team USA in the draw was Casey Ratzlaff, who won his first-round singles match in the men's draw over Adam Berdichevsky of Israel, 6-2, 6-1, before bowing out to No. 2 seed and eventual champion Gordon Reid.
Photos courtesy of the LTA.