Wiltshire’s Catherine and Lewis Fletcher have multiple reasons to celebrate at the end of a difficult 2020 after members of the Great Britain Deaf Tennis Team were voted winners in a record three categories in the Deaf Sport Personality of the Year (DSPY) Awards.
Catherine was voted Coach of the Year for the first time, while Lewis was shortlisted for the overall Deaf Sports Personality of the Year Award along with being an integral member of the Great Britain Team managed by the LTA that was voted Team of the Year.
The Great Britain team won an unprecedented five medals at the 2019 World Deaf Tennis Championships in Antalya, Turkey, their achievement subsequently seeing them finish ahead of teams from football and rugby in an online public vote for the biennial DSPY Awards launched in early December.
Catherine, who was one of the first recipients of the Team of the Year Award back in 2010 after winning the mixed doubles gold medal at the 2009 Deaflympics, has been the LTA’s National Deaf Tennis Coach since 2013. She said:
“I’m absolutely thrilled to win the Coach of the Year award and would like to say a big thank you to all those who voted for me and to the LTA for their support and encouragement. After many years as a player, being National Coach allows me to be involved in something that I have so much passion for and to give back to the sport that has given me so much over the years. I feel very privileged to have an excellent team around me and players who are extremely dedicated.
“To add to the team and family success, my brother Andy Graham is our team sports therapist and has been excellent support working alongside me and instrumental in helping give our players the best possible preparation. All the off-court work is just as vital. To gain a hat-trick of DSPY Awards is a real reward for all the hard work, commitment and successes from everyone and to be voted Team of the Year Award, in particular, is very fitting.”
Lewis partnered Middlesex’s Esah Hayat and Yorkshire’s Phoebe Suthers to win men’s doubles and mixed doubles silver medals at the 2019 World Deaf Tennis Championships and also partnered the same two players to win back-to-back men’s doubles and mixed doubles GB National titles in each of the last two years. He took his personal tally of National Deaf Tennis Championships titles across all events to 17 at the National Tennis Centre in London in September this year.
The DSPY Awards were launched in 2010 to celebrate the achievements of deaf athletes in both deaf and hearing sport. Alongside their dedication to deaf tennis, Catherine and Lewis are also joint Head Coaches at Ramsbury Tennis Club in Wiltshire. Lewis was named Tennis Wiltshire Coach of the Year in 2019, with Ramsbury Tennis Club named South West Club of the Year. Theirs is success built upon outstanding mutual support for each other.
Lewis said: “I’m extremely proud of Catherine for winning the Coach of the Year Award and to be a part of such a magnificent team that have been voted Team of the Year, with my two talented doubles partners Esah and Phoebe nominated for Young Deaf Sports Personality of the Year. Many congratulations to Phoebe for being voted Young Deaf Sports Personality.
While I would have loved to have finished in the top three for the overall Deaf Sports Personality of the Year Award, I’m delighted to have made the shortlist after an outstanding few years for British deaf tennis. We will continue to give our all as we work towards the 2021 Deaflympics. Catherine already has a Deaflympics doubles gold medal and I shall be doing my best to add at least one more to that tally.”