Kettering's Dermot enjoys a successful return to match action
Wheelchair tennis star Dermot Bailey played in his first international tournament in 13 months
Kettering’s Dermot Bailey made a successful return to international wheelchair tennis after finishing runner-up in the men’s singles at the Plock Cup in Poland over the weekend.
Meanwhile, a second final narrowly eluded Bailey as he paired up with another player on the LTA’s Wheelchair Performance Pathway for the men’s doubles, Bailey and Norfolk 15-year-old Ben Bartram being edged out of their semi-final after a deciding match tie-break.
The 27-year-old British No.3 earned two 6-0, 6-0 wins and dropped just two games on the way to the men’s singles semi-finals.
A 7-6(5), 6-3 victory over Austrian third seed Joseph Riegler put Bailey into the final, but he then lost 6-3, 6-3 to French sixth seed Guilhem Laget.
Reflecting on his first international tournament in 13 months, Bailey said: “It was always going to be a bit of a test physically, having not played a tournament for so long and having had a few problems with my hip last year, so I was glad to get so many matches in in just a few days.
“The last time I was at a tournament overseas was at the Georgia Open last year and I only got to play one match as our tour was suspended that week due to the pandemic.
“So just to be back in that environment, competing and testing myself against some good players was great.
“No matter what intensity you put into a training session it’s completely different from the atmosphere and pressure of playing a tournament.”
World No.27 Bailey, who remains on track in his bid to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics, had only played eventual champion Laget once before, beating the Frenchman 6-2, 6-0 in Barcelona in 2019.
However, having lost their latest meeting, Bailey added: “Guilhem’s a good player and I think lockdown has worked well for him.
“He seems to be in a lot better order than the last time I saw him, but I didn’t play my best although the match practice was great.”
Bailey and world No.1 junior Bartram faced three Polish partnerships in their men’s doubles campaign, dropping just four games on their way to the semi-finals.
However, their title aspirations ended in a 4-6, 6-3, 10-6 loss to top seeds Kamil Fabisiak and Piotr Jaroszewski.
Now hoping to play his next tournament in France in June, Bailey said: “It was fun to play with Ben.
“He’s so driven on court and wants to learn from every opportunity.
“We could have won that semi-final, if I’m honest.
“But I think my level dropped at the wrong time and we started the match tie-break having to come from 4-1 down.
“Hopefully we’ll get the chance to play together again at some point.“
To find out more about the LTA’s work with disability tennis, head to www.lta.org.uk/play or email [email protected]