Mathewson Takes Third
in 2019 Wheelchair Doubles Masters
Victoria Chiesa | November 25, 2019
ORLANDO, Fla. - Three doubles teams were crowned champions, and American Dana Mathewson also finished her season with a victory at the UNIQLO Doubles Masters, which concluded Monday at the USTA National Campus.
Sixteen-year-old Niels Vink of the Netherlands turned heads by becoming the youngest winner in the history of the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) year-end wheelchair tennis championship, partnering Australia’s Heath Davidson to win the men’s quad doubles title over Kim Kyu-Seung and Koji Sugeno, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Previously, the youngest year-end champion in either singles or doubles was Great Britain’s Alfie Hewett, who was 19 years old when he triumphed at the NEC Wheelchair Singles Masters in 2017. The men's and women's singles event began in 1994, and was joined by the doubles (2000), quad doubles (2003) and quad singles (2004) in the next decade.ADVERTISEMENT
In the men’s and women’s doubles, it was smooth sailing for the top seeds, as France’s Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer and the Netherlands' Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot claimed their respective titles.
In the men’s final, the French duo defeated Joachim Gerard and Stefan Olsson, 6-1, 6-2, to capture the title together for the third time in the past four years, while the Dutch pair beat Lucy Shuker and Jordanne Whiley from Great Britain, 6-2, 6-2.
The victory is the fifth overall doubles title for van Koot and the third for de Groot, but their first as partners.
While there was no American representation in the finals, Mathewson and partner Marjolein Buis of the Netherlands sealed the third-place medal in the women’s doubles with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa and Katharina Kruger of Germany.
The 28-year-old Mathewson, competing at her fourth Masters in doubles, earned her second bronze medal. She finished runner-up in 2016 and 2018 with Great Britain's Louise Hunt, and also took third in 2017 alongside Shuker.
"It's awesome to come and play here [at the Campus]. I had yet to come and play an official tournament here until now, so that was pretty cool," Mathewson said after the match.
"It's an amazing facility. Everyone says that, but it's true. The weather's been really nice, too. Coming from London [where she lives and studies, while pursuing her doctorate in audiology] to get some sun has been nice.
"It's disappointing that I didn't defend my points this year, but the pool was strong, and Marjolein and I ultimately just came up a little bit short. It happens, but that's tennis."
Monday's result was nonetheless a measure of revenge for the American-Dutch duo, who lost a nearly four-hour match to Montjane and Kruger in pool play earlier in the tournament, and the American credited a change in tactics with helping them flip the result.
“They surprised us a lot on the first day. They’re both very aggressive players, but usually that means they’ll make a lot more errors by their nature of being aggressive," Mathewson assessed.
"They were really solid on that day and didn’t give us that many free points. We didn’t raise our level, so that first day, I think we were both frustrated that we didn’t rise to the occasion a little bit, and they did. In a match like that, the people who are brave are going to win.
"Today, I think we changed our plan a little bit. We were a little bit more dynamic, pushing into the court, taking time away and using the court a little bit better. In the other match, a lot of it was rallying and rallying, and waiting for someone to make a mistake, instead of closing in on the ball and finishing things. I think we did that a lot better today.
"I'm lucky that Marjolein just gets everything, and I just wait for the finishing ball and do my job that way. She's a great partner. She's a really consistent player and someone who you can always count on on the doubles court.
"That's not to say that she's not aggressive, but she's known for always getting that ball back in play, which in doubles, especially, is a huge strength. She reads the game really well, so for balls that I can't even get to, she's already read that she needs to be up there for the angle, and that frees me up to look for short balls and look for gaps that I can hit to.
"She sets me up for that, and I like to think that, hopefully, my bigger ball can help set her up to do fancy stuff with her hands, because she has good hands."
The NEC Wheelchair Singles Masters concludes on Tuesday, with American David Wagner pursuing his 11th title in the quad men’s singles title against the teenaged Vink, in a match which features a nearly 25-year age gap.
The men’s singles final sees Hewett face Gerard, while world No. 1 de Groot faces world No. 2 Yui Kamiji of Japan in the women’s singles final.