Three rising tennis stars flew the flag for Team GB at the third Open Deaf Youth Tennis Cup in Germany recently. National Deaf Coach, Catherine Fletcher, named a team of Charlie Denton, Ethan Carter and Nathan Carmody to represent Great Britain in the tournament in Braunschweig between 3 – 5 June.
The three-day event of singles and doubles matches marked the conclusion of Deaf Awareness Week and provided a major success for the talented British trio, who all came away with medals.
The tournament – held in conjunction with the eighth German Deaf Youth Sports Festival – saw young players aged between 12 – 20 years compete against each other in an open competition split into two round-robin boxes, with three pairings in the doubles event.
It was the doubles which proved most successful for the British players as Denton and Carter partnered up to win the gold medal. That was soon followed by silver for Carmody and his partner from Ukraine. Denton – the Deaf Tennis National Finals Junior Champion – also came away with bronze in the singles competition.
Reflecting on a fantastic experience for the GB deaf players, Fletcher said: “I am delighted with the success of the Open Deaf Youth Tennis Cup in Germany. All three British players did extremely well and served their success.
“It was a great achievement to win a gold, silver and bronze – I am very proud of them all. This has given them some international experience and exposure under their belt.” She added: “Roll on the next deaf tournament so we can do GB proud again!”
A significant part of Fletcher’s role as the LTA’s National Deaf Tennis Coach is developing the next generation of deaf players. Tennis camps are held on four weekends each year with support from the LTA and it is this structure that has led to the success of current Junior World and European champions, Esah Hayat and Phoebe Suthers, and British champion, Lewis Fletcher.
All of Britain’s young deaf players are learning from the best as Catherine Fletcher won multiple events as a deaf tennis player including seven National Singles titles and a mixed doubles Gold Medal at the 2009 Deaflympics in Taipei.
She represented the GB Deaf Tennis team between 1997 and 2013 and enjoyed a long and distinguished playing career. Since becoming the LTA’s National Deaf Tennis Coach in 2013, she has coached and led GB to further success including a junior boys’ singles Gold Medal for Hayat at the inaugural World Deaf Championships in Nottingham in 2015, five medals at the 2016 European Deaf Championships, silver at the 2018 Dresse Cup (Men’s World Team Championships) for Hayat and Lewis Fletcher, gold in women’s singles and doubles for Suthers at the Slovenia Deaf Tennis Open and another five junior and senior medals at the 2na World Deaf Tennis Championships in Turkey in 2019.
Catherine Fletcher added: “It has been a great way to give back to the sport that has given me so much over the years and to help others have the opportunities that I had.”
What the players said
Ethan Carter: “Germany was a really good experience for all of us. Me and Charlie played really well in the doubles final and I’m happy we both got gold medals. Adapting to clay courts was really good as well.”
charlie denton: “I really enjoyed Germany and I’m very happy to bring back two medals in both the singles and doubles. I’m also very pleased with my quick adaptation to clay courts.”
Nathan Carmody: “What I leaned from the tennis tournament is to try not to think of negative things. If you think negatively, you will put yourself down. At the same time, if you lose a point by a mistake, by hitting it our or into the net, don’t worry about it, just focus on the next point.
“This trip has been amazing, I have learned a lot of things. From my experience of the tennis matches, it was really interesting. In future I would love to play more tournaments and matches against other good players.”
Who can compete in deaf tennis?
To be eligible, a player must have an average hearing loss of 55dB or more in their best ear. When competing players must remove cochlear implants and hearing aids before starting the warm-up before the match. Failure to do so will result in disqualification. The reason for this is to allow it to be an even playing field for all.