Breakthrough wins for Phoebe

Phoebe Suthers (right) with national deaf tennis coach Catherine Fletcher
Phoebe Suthers (right) with national deaf tennis coach Catherine Fletcher

Phoebe Suthers claimed her first senior international titles with a sensational set of performances at the 2018 Slovenia Deaf Open in Portoroz over the weekend.

The 15-year-old from Elland dropped just eight games across the women’s singles and doubles events at the prestigious event.

Suthers, who joined the Tennis Foundation’s Deaf Tennis Performance Programme in 2015, returned to Portoroz almost two years on from winning three European Deaf Tennis Championships junior medals.

She marked her return by defeating the top three seeds to win women’s singles title in style.

After a first round bye, Suthers beat third seed Jafreen Shaikh of India 6-0, 6-1. She followedg that accomplished display with a 6-0 6-2 victory over French third seed Aurelie Coudon.

Suthers arguably saved her best for last, winning Saturday’s singles final against Slovakian top seed Jana Janosikova 6-2, 6-1.

A little over an hour later Suthers was back on court alongside Coudon for the first of their two doubles round-robin matches, beating Serbia’s Stasa Srebolic and Janosikova 6-1, 6-1.

A landmark two days for Suthers ended with the Briton partnering Couldon to defeat India’s Parul Gupta and Shaikh 6-0, 6-0.

“I’m so pleased that I got my first international senior titles, it feels amazing!” she said.

“I played probably one of the best tennis matches in my life in the final and I was surprised how well I played, especially on clay, as it’s not a surface I train or compete on much,” she said.

Suthers was accompanied to Slovenia by the Tennis Foundation’s National Deaf Tennis Coach Catherine Fletcher and sports therapist Andy Graham.

She added: “Once I stepped on court I was ready to do my best. My next focus in deaf tennis is Turkey, for the Dresse and Maere Cup in September and hopefully I can bring something to the team there, too. I look forward to what future tournaments have in store.

Fletcher said: “It was an absolute privilege to witness Phoebe win this tournament and it’s been a delight to have seen her grow from a young girl into a mature player over the last few years.

“She has learnt so much from this trip and showed how much she has improved as a player and this is huge credit to her commitment and set up back at home.

“She is a great ambassador for deaf tennis and the Tennis Foundation and she has an exciting future ahead of her at international level.”

While Suthers looks forward to September’s Dresse and Maere Cup, the world team championships of deaf tennis, the Brooksbank School pupil now returns to training at Huddersfield Lawn Tennis and Squash Club. She trains under the guidance of coach Matt Smith, and competition against her hearing peers, having already accumulated a string of victories in senior and age group tournaments this year.