Sport – Gordon Reid MBE

Gordon Reid MBE – Wheelchair tennis star

Gordon was born on 2nd October 1991 in Helensburgh. He started playing tennis when he was 6 years of age and started playing wheelchair tennis in February 2005. The only difference in the rules between wheelchair tennis and other tennis is that in wheelchair tennis you’re allowed to hit the ball after the second bounce.

Gordon comes from a talented tennis family and started playing tennis at the age of six, playing alongside his two brothers and sister at Helensburgh Tennis Club, where he was a good junior player

By the age of 12, Gordon lived for sport – especially football and tennis. His tennis coach reckoned he had real potential but, a week before his 13th birthday; Gordon started to complain of cramps in his legs. Just 24 hours later, he was paralysed from the waist down after developing a rare spinal condition, transverse myelitis, and he feared he might never walk again. In an interview with the Herald Newspaper, his mother Alison described the event: “In 12 hours he was paralysed from the waist down,” and Gordon responded, when asked how he coped; “I just got on with it.”

But six months after he was rushed to hospital, at the end of 2004, Gordon had won his first wheelchair tennis tournament.

When he started training again with his old tennis coach and mentor, Steve Losh of Helensburgh Tennis Club, the local community rallied to raise the £2600 needed to buy a specially adapted chair.

Less than two years after needing a wheelchair Gordon had risen to the top 100 in the men’s singles world rankings. Gordon won the men’s second draw of the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships – the same level as a Grand Slam event like Wimbledon. He was Britain’s youngest ever national men’s singles champion in 2007, at the age of 15, and also became the International Wheelchair Tennis Junior Masters boys’ singles champion. And all of this whilst continuing his studies at Hermitage Academy.

Having reached the Men’s top 100, Gordon’s aim was to represent Team GB London Olympics in 2012 but he has realised his ambition early by reaching the Team at 2008’s Beijing Olympics. At 16 years of age Gordon became the youngest men’s tennis player selected to represent Great Britain in a Paralympic Games.

Gordon has been quoted as saying that “Playing for Team GB gives you such an adrenalin rush when you move onto the court. Knowing you’ve got the British flag on your shirt just makes you sure that you want to win even more.”

Gordon was a nominee for the BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year in 2006.

Gordon Reid, the UK No 1 at both senior and junior level, defended his singles and doubles titles at the Under-18 Cruyff Foundation International Wheelchair Tennis Junior Masters tournament held in Tarbes, France in January 2009.

In 2008 and 2009 he won both the boys’ singles and boys’ doubles at the Junior Masters in Tarbes, France and in January 2009 became world No 1 junior in the boys’ singles rankings, a position he maintained throughout his final season as a junior. Gordon also played in the men’s wheelchair doubles at Wimbledon in 2008.

Gordon helped Great Britain to win men’s World Group 2 at the 2008 Invacare World Team Cup, to finish fifth in World Group 1 in 2009 and to finish fourth in Turkey in 2010, which was Britain’s best Invacare World Team Cup result in the men’s event since 2002. Gordon was named Tennis Scotland Junior Male Player of the Year in 2009, when Tennis Scotland President, Christine Lawrie, visited the Hermitage Academy Celebration of Achievement Evening to present Gordon with his honour.

As a doubles player, he qualified for the year-end Doubles Masters for the first time in 2009, where he and his Hungarian partner Laszlo Farkas finished fifth of the eight partnerships. Gordon ended 2010 having beaten three world top ranked players on his way to winning three NEC Tour singles titles during the season, as well as winning four doubles titles during the year. By the end of 2010, Gordon had reached a world ranking of 14. Gordon was named Tennis Scotland Disabled Player of the Year in 2010.

In February 2011, Gordon was named Glasgow Disabled Athlete of the Year.

In January 2012, Gordon won his first title on the 2012 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour when he teamed up with fellow Brit Marc McCarroll to win the men’s doubles at the Melbourne Open. During the same tournament, Gordon also beat his first world top 10 opponent of the new season enroute to reaching the men’s singles semi-final. In April of this year he also won his first ITF 1 Series men’s doubles title at the Florida Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships. Gordon and Frenchman Michael Jeremiasz dropped just two games in each of their first two doubles matches against Japan’s Takashi Sanada and Satoshi Saida and Brazil’s Mauricio Pomme and Carlos Santos, before upsetting Dutch top seeds Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink 6-4, 6-3 in the semi-finals. The fourth seeds completed a stunning victory when they took on their second all-Dutch opponents in successive days and beat third seeds Maikel Scheffers and Tom Egberink 6-4, 6-1 to claim the title.

The pairing of Reid and McCarroll also saw them compete in their first ITF 1 Series Singles final, at the South African Open in Johannesburgh. This time they faced each other over the net, with Reid edging the first set, but McCarroll winning the last four games of the second set to force the decider. The first two games of the third and final set went with serve, before McCarroll edged ahead after three successive service breaks to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Later the pair were back on the court, this time alongside each other, to win the Doubles tournament.

In June 2012, Gordon, ranked as the British Number 1, was selected to represent Team GB in the London 2012 Paralympics. At just 20 years of age London 2012 was to be Gordon’s second appearance at the games, where he reached the quarter finals of both the men’s singles and doubles competitions.

Following the Paralympics, Gordon won his fourth consecutive Fall Southern PTR Mens Singles Wheelchair Championships and then won his first Super Series Event. Gordon won the doubles event, partnering the Frenchman Stephane Houdet, at the US Open Wheelchair Championships in St Louis. The super series win took his world ranking to 8, making him the joint highest-ranked British men’s player in the sport, alongside the now-retired Jayant Mistry.

In 2013, Gordon secured his highest world men’s singles ranking of 4 and competed in the three tennis majors of Wimbledon and the French and US Opens. In the October he secured the first International Tennis Federation (ITF) 1 Series singles title of his career after defeating Frenchman and world number two Stephane Houdet in the final of the Open de la Baie de Somme in Rue, France.

In 2015, Gordon secured his first Grand Slam Titles, winning both the French & US Open Doubles titles with Shingo Kunieda and Stephane Houdet respectively. By the Autumn of 2015 Gordon had seen his ITF Wheelchair Tennis Ranking move up to 2nd in the World for Doubles and 5th in Singles.

January 2016 saw Gordon claim his first Grand Slam Men’s Singles Title when he defeated Joachim Gerard of Belgium 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 to win the Australian Open in Melbourne.

On the 10th July 2016 Gordon made tennis history when he became the first man to win the inaugural Wimbledon Men’s Singles Wheelchair Championship. He defeated Sweden’s Stefan Olson 6-1 6-4 to claim his second Singles Grand Slam title. What made the victory all the more remarkable was that it came only 24 hours after he had clinched the Wimbledon Men’s Wheelchair Doubles Title with English partner Alfie Hewett. The British pair beat beat the number one seeds Stéphane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer of France 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) in match that lasted over 2 and half hours.

Gordon was to make further history at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games by becoming the first British man to win a Men’s Singles Gold medal in the wheelchair tennis. He also won the silver medal, partnering Alfie Hewett, in the Men’s Doubles competition.

2016 was a phenomenal year for Gordon and he capped it off by becoming only the second person to be given the freedom of Argyll & Bute, gaining the #1 status in the Men’s Singles rankings and being awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.

Image Copyright British Paralympic Association

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