New Canadian wheelchair tennis champion crowned 

click to enlarge Heavy Hitter Lee Carter of Winnipeg turned his number one ranking into a national championship in Whistler last weekend, at the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis championships.
  • Heavy Hitter Lee Carter of Winnipeg turned his number one ranking into a national championship in Whistler last weekend, at the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis championships.

Canada’s number one ranked wheelchair tennis player now has a national title to go with his rankings, after taking the singles title in Whistler on Sunday.

Winnipeg’s Lee Carter beat B.C.’s Phil Rowe, currently ranked second, in straight sets on Sunday to take the title.

“At the beginning of the year this is what I wanted, a national championship,” said Carter, who will represent Canada at the 2008 Paralympic Games. “I remember when I first started, at my first nationals, always wondering when I would be able to compete with the best in this country.”

The final match started out fairly close, with Rowe doing everything he could to stay even with Carter. He lost the first set 6-4, and the second set 6-2.

“I didn’t quite get the job done,” said Rowe, who was playing in his 18 th and last national championships. “I had a game plan and I did it as best I could. It may be my last nationals but if I can come back and play another year or two I will.”

Carter and Rowe also combined forces in the doubles to take the national doubles title. It was Rowe’s 10 th doubles championship title and Carter’s first.

It was close. In the finals against Joe Dembe and Corey Blatchford they went to a seventh game twice in a row. The final sets were 7-5, 7-5 for Rowe and Carter.

“It was good to get the job done, but it was tight and close,” said Rowe. “That is one of the toughest finals I’ve had. It gives an indication that we have some good young players here.”

The quad singles final saw Sarah Hunter of White Rock, ranked number one, beat number two ranked Adrian Dieleman of Ontario with sets of 6-0 and 6-0. The quadriplegic category is open to both male and female players.

“It’s always an absolute pleasure to play against Adrian because he is on the front end of the learning curve and I think I am starting on the way down,” said Hunter, who was ranked fourth in the world before the Birmingham National Wheelchair Championships, held at the Whistler Racquet Club for the second year in a row this past weekend.

Severine Tamborero, head coach for the national team, liked what she saw this weekend.

“It’s great to see players like Joe (Dembe) and Eric (Gilbert) that are the future of the sport, they’re battling with the top players,” she said. “We need to continue raising the bar for our players to ensure that they can represent Canada on the international level. We still have some way to go. We have to push ourselves to be the best not just in Canada but in the world.”

This was the last nationals for wheelchair tennis leading up to the 2008 Paralympics.

The women’s singles and doubles events were cancelled because of low registration numbers — mostly stemming from injuries among the top-ranked players.

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