Kettering’s Dermot Bailey built up to the defence of his Wrexham Wheelchair Tennis Tournament men’s singles title by claiming his latest doubles crown at the Swedish Open, where he was also men’s singles runner-up to Wimbledon finalist Stefan Olsson..
Bailey tops the seeding for this weekend’s ITF Futures event in Wrexham, where he claimed one of the three singles titles he won on home soil in 2015 on his way to securing a career best world ranking of No. 38 earlier this year.
Although narrowly missing out on qualification for Rio, Bailey still experienced last month’s Games first hand as one of the athletes from the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme selected for the British Paralympic Association’s Paralympic Inspiration Programme.
In his first tournament since returning from Rio and his first competitive event since July, Bailey partnered Dutchman Calrlos Anker to the men’s doubles title in Sweden.
Three straight sets wins for the duo included a 7-5, 6-2 semi-final victory over Olsson, men’s doubles gold medallist at London 2012, and his countryman Lars Jernberg, before they defeated Italy’s Paola Cancelli and Luca Spano 6-2, 6-0 in the final.
“It was a good solid win and nice to get another title under my belt in my first tournament since the summer,” Bailey said.
“There were a few too many balls going down the centre of the court that Stefan could put away in the first set of the semi-final and you can’t do that with a player of his calibre, but we got our tactics right in the second set.”
Bailey made a slow start to his men’s singles challenge, but eventually dominated a final set tie-break to beat Anker 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(1) in the first round.
Two subsequent straight sets wins over Finland’s Taneli Tenhunen and Spano earned the current British No.4 his place in the final against Olsson before Sweden’s world No.6 took the title 6-0, 6-0.
“As preparation for Wrexham goes, it was a good week, as otherwise I wouldn’t have been in that competitive environment since July,” the Kettering man, who has improved his ranking by four places to No. 41 this week, added.
“It wasn’t the best tennis I’ve ever played, but once I dominated the tie-break against Carlos it got better as the week went on.
“Despite the result I felt like I played my best tennis of the week against Stefan.
“It’s just that he played better and played the kind of tennis that took him the Wimbledon final in July.
“If I can keep myself around the world’s top 40 by the end of the year that will give me a good foundation for 2017 and something to build on after that ahead of the qualification period for Tokyo.
“I started the qualification period for Rio outside the top 160 after injury and got myself up to No.38, so hopefully I can be challenging for a seeding and not just qualification for Tokyo.
“Being able to experience the Rio Paralympics was incredible and I’d like to thank the Tennis Foundation and the British Paralympic Association for giving me the opportunity to be part of it.
“After coming back I couldn’t wait to get back on court and start my journey towards Tokyo.”