It was another thrilling day at the courts as the semifinals took over the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships on Saturday. Here are just a few of the best quotes, to give you an idea of how the day shook out!
There were plenty of cheers in the crowd as local favourite Tomas Bourassa pulled off a huge triumph in a remarkable three hours and two minutes to make the final. A day earlier, the 17-year-old junior was just happy about making the championship draw and playing the ‘big names’.
“It’s exciting. I hadn’t really thought about it that way. I’m still just a 17-year-old kid who plays tennis. It’s kind of neat to know that I can play at that level.”
I was just trying to stay focused. I could see that I was almost there, but I was trying to keep myself in the moment … to avoid what happened. It didn’t really help that much I guess!
“I just want to have fun. It’s my first time playing Philippe, I’ve wanted to play him for years just to see how I compare. Now is my opportunity, and I’ll see how I do.”
Bedard finished his match just before Bourassa, and stayed in the doorway to the courts to watch the end of the long duel, scouting an opponent he is not too familiar with just yet.
“It feels good, that was the objective coming here. I’m very happy to play Tomas, it’ll be my first match against him. I saw him play today, that’s it. I’m ready, he looks like a mini-Joel [Dembe, Bedard’s now-retired former doubles partner].”
Quebec’s Maudes Jacques, and the tournament’s defending champion, was the first to make the women’s final. Here’s what she had to say about her potential opponents.
“I think it’s going to be really good match, and if there wasn’t a Canucks game tonight I’d probably be watching it. I’m excited to play whoever wins.”
[Laughs] “Yes, this is how I’m preparing for the final, I’m still going to be eating really healthy!”
After pulling off wins to make the final, both Sarah Hunter and Rob Shaw spoke about the closeness of the quad team.
“It’s tough when you go to nationals because you are playing against teammates, against friends. You have to do your best to separate that. We all do a pretty good job of that on court. It’s always tough, but as long as we all play well, none of us will be upset with the result. On the global scale, we are a team and we want to push each other.”
“I really love being their teammates and that’s been a motivation for me to play in nationals here and be in game shape to represent Canada in World Team Cup. It’s a nice environment, you don’t often get a team environment in tennis, and I feel like I have that at tournaments when the boys are there.”
And now, the two teammates are prepping to close out their 2016 nationals versus each other. Shaw commented on the incredible experience and skills of Hunter, who is Canada’s highest-ranked wheelchair tennis player ever with a career-high world No. 2 standing.
“She’s a top quality player. She’s a competitor, she loves the sport, she hits a hard ball and one of the best serves on tour. In the last few years, with injuries and family, she’s taken a back seat but any given match she can flip the switch on. When her shots are on, no one can get to them. It’s going to be a good match, hopefully we can put a good show on for everyone. As long as we’re both playing well, I think we’ll both be happy with the result no matter what. She’s been on top of the game in Canada for longer than I’ve been playing so it’s a legend versus maybe the new face of it at some point I hope.”
Hunter has been dealing with a back injury for much of the past couple seasons, and so wasn’t necessarily expecting to make the final, but says she is quite happy with the result.
“I’ll be fine. Just the sheer enjoyment I get out of playing and competing will be enough for me to be able to compete tomorrow and I can put it all aside for a couple of hours and just grit my teeth at times.”