Two first-time Canadian champions were crowned at the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships on Sunday as Joel Dembe (Toronto) and Gary Luker (Stoney Creek, ON) won the men’s and quad titles at the Ottawa Athletic Club.
For the men’s singles trophy, it was a battle between the No. 2-seeded Dembe and four-time defending champion Lee Carter. Dembe, a 2012 Paralympic hopeful, was able to take out the top seed 6-4, 6-4 to claim the title.
“All the hard work this year has paid off,” Dembe said. “It feels good to call myself a national champion. I couldn’t have done it without my team back home, including Ben Armstrong, Jonathan Skelcher, and Stephanie Nihon.”
Philippe Bedard took the third-place play-off with a 6-2, 7-6 victory over Eric Gilbert.
Dembe continued his winning ways a few hours later, also claiming supremacy in the doubles draw. He and Bedard triumphed over Carter and Jeff McBride 6-2, 6-2. It is both champions’ first national doubles crown.
In the quad division, Luker was able to improve upon his 2010 runner-up result by decisively defeating No. 1 seed Adrian Dieleman 6-2, 6-0. With the victory, he also denied 2005 champion Dieleman a second national title.
Dieleman didn’t go home empty-handed though as he and Mika Ishikawa clinched the doubles trophy a day earlier with a 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 win over Luker and Bert Blokker. It is his sixth consecutive doubles title, but first with Ishikawa. His usual partner, Sarah Hunter, did not participate in the tournament this year due to injury.