Super First For City Wheelchair Tennis Star In Sydney

WHEELCHAIR tennis ace Gordon Reid is enjoying a meteoric rise through the ranks.

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Gordon Reid
Gordon Reid

Last month he became the first British player to win a men's singles Super Series wheelchair title at the Apia Sydney International Open in Australia, where he also took the doubles title.

Now sitting at number three in the singles and number four in the doubles Inter-national Tennis Federation's wheelchair tennis rankings, the British number one is in the running for the prestigious Evening Times sponsored Disabled Sports Person of the Year Award.

The 22-year-old, who lives in Finnieston, took time out of his gruelling training to reflect on his success.

MATTY SUTTON reports.

It's been a really busy year," says Gordon, speaking just a few days after touching down in Scotland following three major competitions in Australia.

"I have been doing a lot of tournaments and training really hard and it is starting to pay off now.

"I am starting to get the results that we hoped would come after the hard work."

Following on from a stellar performance at the London 2012 Paralympics, where he reached the quarter finals, Helensburgh-born Gordon has had a high-flying 2013.

Among the highlights has been making his Grand Slam singles debut at Roland Garros, the French Open, and an impressive performance at the US Open.

Gordon said that success, followed by winning the Wheelchair Doubles Masters in California in November, was a "fantastic" end to the year.

A keen sportsman from a young age, when he was just 12, Gordon was struck by a neurological condition which rendered him paralysed from the waist down.

Already a footballer and tennis player, he was keen to get back to sport and within six months of developing transverse mylitis he was at Pacer's Wheelchair Club in Scotstoun.

It was there he got his first taste of wheelchair tennis, climbing quickly to a high level.

At just 16, he went to Beijing as part of Paralympics GB, and since then, he has gone from strength to strength, powering up the rankings. He says his career so far has "gone by in a flash" with non-stop tournaments and achievements.

Now he is aiming at what he hopes will be his third Paralympics and a shot at a medal in Rio in 2016.

At the moment he is training six days a week at the Emirates Arena and the Central Scotland Institute of Sport at Stirling University.

"In the long term, I am looking towards Rio and the Paralympics and putting myself in the best position to try to get a medal," says Gordon.

"The experience of being in London was invaluable. You learn so much just from being involved in the event and seeing the way things work at a Paralympics and just the experience of having those big matches under my belt.

"That's the great thing about Grand Slams, you are playing in front of big crowds in high pressure situations and all that will help towards Rio."

Off the court, Gordon, who is also a keen basketball player, has a strong network of friends who he says are supportive and keep him grounded.

"You come back from some big event and you just want to see your mates," he says.

"It's good just to just spend time normally with them like I have always done.

"It is not like I am anyone special when I am back with my friends, which is a good thing."

In Australia, mum Alison was on the sidelines, cheering him on - something Gordon says lifts his performance.

Although family and friends can't always make the long trips across the world to watch him compete, he says their presence really makes a difference.

Familiar Scottish accents shouting his name helped to power him into the top spot in the men's singles in Sydney, where he beat Japan's world number 10 Takuya Miki in the final after defeating world number one Shingo Kuneida in the semi-finals.

He took the doubles title alongside partner Dutchman Maikel Scheffers after defeating top seeds Stephane Houdet and Kunieda.

Gordon also competed in the Melbourne Open, where he won the doubles title, and the Australian Open, also in Melbourne.

He said: "My family watch me as much as possible and my mum managed to get to Australia. A couple of my friends from school were staying in Melbourne at the time so they managed to watch me as well.

"It's great when you can get some friends and family watching you at these tournaments abroad and hear a Scottish accent cheering for you in the crowd. It is great to know you have got people behind."

GORDON praised the Sports Person of the Year Awards, organised by Glasgow Life, for recognising both high achieving athletes and volunteers for their contribution to sport.

The Evening Times sponsors three awards: Disabled Sports Person of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Young Sports Person of the Year.

Other categories include the Lifetime Achievement Award, Team of the Year, Club of the Year, Primary School of the Year, Secondary School of the Year, Student of the Year, Coach of the Year and the Sports Person of the Year.

Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson and Lord Provost Sadie Docherty will announce the winners at a ceremony at Glasgow City Chambers on February 28.

Gordon said: "It is good to get all the best athletes from Glasgow back together and it is always nice to celebrate everyone's achievements and be recognised for whoever has had a good year.

"You always see the awards for the volunteers and those behind the scenes as well.

"Anyone involved in sport will realise how much of an impact everybody behind the scenes has on the stars who have all the publicity.

"They wouldn't be where they are without the teams behind them."

matty.sutton@eveningtimes.co.uk

Sport

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