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Honorary Degree Orations
Public Orator, Barry Moore presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Monday 17 December at 3.00pm
Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Hon. Grads, Graduands, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It can be said of only a small number of people that they achieve excellence in their chosen field. However relatively few of these dominate that field to the extent that Jayant Mistry has in the field of wheelchair tennis.
Jayant Mistry announced his retirement as a full time international wheelchair tennis player in July this year after a glittering career spanning more than 20 years.
Jayant has been the undisputed British Men’s No 1 for more than 15 years, during which time he has won 13 National singles titles.
He was ranked in the top 10 in the ITF Wheelchair Tennis World rankings in either singles or doubles every year from 1995 to this year, with his highest singles ranking being No. 8 in August 2000 and his highest doubles ranking No. 2 in May 2002.
During his career he reached NEC Singles Masters, the year-end highlight on the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, which is open to just eight of the world’s top Men, every year between 2000 and 2004.
Jayant won 68 international career titles - 20 singles and 48 doubles titles on the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, with his most famous victory being at the first Wheelchair Men’s Doubles Tournament held at Wimbledon in 2005. Later the same year he was victorious in the Wheelchair Tennis Doubles Masters.
He also won the Men’s Main Draw Doubles title at the prestigious British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships held in Nottingham in 2002, one of just four tournaments to have Super Series status, the equivalent of Grand Slam. Jayant’s final singles title was gained in March 2007 at the North East Wheelchair Tournament in Sunderland, when he upset form and the rankings in the semi-finals and final.
Jayant has always taken great pride in representing Great Britain, participating in 20 World Team Cups and four Paralympic Games. At the Sydney Paralympics in 2000 he narrowly missed out on a medal, losing in three sets in the play-off for the Bronze medal.
Before moving back to Leicester last month, Jayant spent six and a half happy years living in Loughborough, initially moving to the town because of the splendid training facilities on the campus.
He has been a great ambassador for international wheelchair tennis both on and off the court. When he has not been playing or training he has spent a considerable amount of time in promoting the sport during personal appearances and encouraging new players at Wheelchair Tennis Camps.
Jayant has played a significant role as a player ambassador for the International Tennis Federation's Silver Fund, travelling to developing countries in the quest to help them build sustainable wheelchair tennis programmes. Among the countries he has visited on behalf of the ITF Silver Fund is India, which understandably holds very special memories for Jayant due to his family heritage. In India, his first name, Jayant, means 'victory'.
Everyone in British and international Wheelchair tennis will miss Jayant's presence, humour and sportsmanship, but hopefully the benefit of his experience will continue to influence generations of future players.
Having outlined Jayant’s outstanding record, unparalleled successes and international standing I would like to indicate an area which in my opinion makes him even more worthy of receiving this award.
Nowadays it is our expectation to see athletes of different abilities taking a full part in high-profile sporting events. Wheelchair athletes take their rightful place in all the major marathons around the world and since the Barcelona Olympics appearing in the same venues as their able-bodied peers. Jayant Mistry has been at the forefront of raising our awareness to the contribution that these athletes make, enriching our lives, removing prejudice and ensuring that they are accorded the recognition they truly deserve. He has achieved this through hard work, tremendous dedication and a spirit that refused to allow any obstacle stand in his way.
Therefore, Chancellor, It gives me enormous pleasure to present to you, and the whole University, Mr Jayant Mistry for the degree of Doctor of the University. Honoris causa.