Jordanne Whiley pulls through a tough Tokyo quarter-final

Halesowen’s Jordanne Whiley struggled to hold her emotions after breaking new ground at the Paralympics.

Britain's Jordanne Whiley competes against South Africa's Kgothatso Montjane and Mariska Venter during a women's doubles quarterfinal tennis match at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato).
Britain's Jordanne Whiley competes against South Africa's Kgothatso Montjane and Mariska Venter during a women's doubles quarterfinal tennis match at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato).

Whiley was just 16 when she made her Games debut in Beijing, 14 years after her father Keith won bronze at the 1984 Games in New York.

Now back for a fourth time, she reached the women’s singles last four for the first time with a rollercoaster 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 victory over American Dana Mathewson, meaning a semi-final date with top seed Diede de Groot now awaits.

“It was really emotional obviously – it was just such an up-and-down match, I know how good Dana is and she’s one of my best friends, so it was always going to be a tricky match,” said Whiley.

“I was really, really nervous – the momentum switches were constant. From 5-2 up there was a big momentum switch and she came out of nowhere and started hitting winners.

“I thought I was done but the 6-5 game was really big for me – I had to find that extra one per cent because I was struggling in the heat.

I’m really proud of myself mentally for pulling through that – that’s a really big win for me to get into the semi-finals, so obviously it means a lot.”

Whiley, who also reached the semi-final of the women’s doubles with partner Lucy Shuker, admits the furnace like temperatures in Tokyo took their toll in a match that lasted over two-and-a-half hours in the heat of the blazing midday sun.

“We were doing heat chamber work back home, you would sit in there for an hour and work out but nothing compares to this,” she added.

“It was a lot hotter than I thought it was going to be. I’m not good in the heat anyway because I don’t sweat on my face, so that gets very hot.

“I was really struggling in the second set but I managed to cool down and in the third set, I felt good.

“I learned a lot from that match – the heat and my nerves got the better of me, so I need to talk to my team and see what I can do.

“Now I’ve got two shots at a medal which is an amazing place to be. I don’t want to have any regrets when I come off the court, so I think I need to chat to them.”

n Sainsbury’s is a proud supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers to eat better has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s visit www.sainsburys.co.uk/ and https://paralympics.org.uk/

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