Canada’s #1 men’s wheelchair tennis player, Joel Dembe (Toronto), concluded his most successful year to date the exact same way he started it – with a tournament win in Mexico. After opening his 2012 season with a victory at the Guadalajara Open in February, Dembe convincingly won Sunday’s Mazatlan Open final by beating American John Becker 6-4, 6-1.
“What a nice way to finish 2012,” Dembe said. “Mexico has been very kind to me this year. I played a pretty much flawless second set. My service was off a little in the first set but I took complete control as the match progressed and overpowered him ultimately. My returns were great, which I am pleased about since I have been putting a lot of emphasis on improving that part of my game over the last months. I've also been informed that the win today was my 100th on the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour.”
To complete a successful Canadian weekend, 28-year-old Dembe went on to win the doubles title alongside Canada's No. 3 player Eric Gilbert (St. Raymond, Que.) by beating the American-Mexican team of Becker and Tito Bautista 7-5, 6-0.
World No. 33 Joel Dembe has captured the singles title on Sunday at the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships held at the Sani Sport Tennis Club in Brossard, QC. He had to dig deep to defend his 2011 national title by prevailing in a hard-fought final against world No. 52 Philippe Bedard (Montreal) by a score of 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.
“I am pleased to have defended my Canadian national title,” Dembe said. “Philippe played a great match today, and he deserves a lot of credit for getting to his first Birmingham Nationals final and for improving so much this year. A special thanks to Betty Birmingham and family for being there and sponsoring the event and to Tennis Canada and Parasports Quebec for running an excellent tournament. Also, a heartfelt thank you to the hosting club, Sani Sport Brossard, for staging the event at their first-class facility.”
Dembe and Bedard also paired up on Saturday to clinch the doubles trophy by beating the all-Quebec team of Eric Gilbert and newcomer Jean-Francois Sylvestre by a score of 6-1, 6-0.
After having to sit out last year’s championships due to injury, world No. 15 Sarah Hunter (Surrey, B.C.) returned to capture her 11th national singles title, by winning the quad division in a round-robin competition. In Sunday’s final match she beat Gary Luker (Ancaster, ON) 7-5, 6-2.
Luker made up for his singles final loss by clinching the quad doubles final alongside Adrian Dieleman (Hamilton, ON) by fighting off two match points and pulling off a narrow 6-7, 7-5, 6-2 win against Hunter and Mika Ishikawa (Vancouver) in a three-hour epic battle.