It’s official. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has confirmed that four British players, including Paralympic gold medallist and Wimbledon men’s singles champion Gordon Reid and Rio quad singles silver medallist Andy Lapthorne, will compete at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters 2016 in London (30 Nov-4 Dec).
Tournament success throughout the year has ensured Reid (world No.2), Lapthorne (quad world No.4), Jordanne Whiley (world No.5), and Lucy Shuker (world No.8) will all fly the flag for Britain at the ITF’s year-end wheelchair tennis singles championship at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
Reid, from Helensburgh in Scotland, said:
“I know you are only as good as your last match and that the competition will be really intense at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters. I’m just going to knuckle down and work hard to give myself every opportunity to win this title. That would be a dream finale to my year.”
Lapthorne, who claimed singles silver and doubles bronze in the quad division in Rio , will be aiming to win his first ever NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters title as the Eastcote player competes in front of a home crowd in East London.
The world No.4, who turned 26 this week (11 Oct), commented:
“It has been a long and memorable season with a Paralympic silver medal among the highlights. I’m really pleased to be in the mix at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters and I’ll be pulling out all the stops to make the final in front of a home crowd.”
Competition will be tough in all of the disciplines, with Joachim Gerard (Belgium), Jiske Griffioen (Netherlands) and David Wagner (USA), the respective reigning men’s, women’s and quad champions, all returning to defend their titles.
The women’s singles will see Ickenham 24 year-old Whiley, two-time Paralympic doubles bronze medallist and two-time British Open champion , aiming to add to her impressive run of form.
“I was very proud to win my third consecutive doubles title at Wimbledon this year but it was also really special to successfully defend my British Open singles title. The NEC Wheelchair Masters will be tough but if I can keep my form I’ve every chance of making the final in front of a home crowd.”
Whiley will be joined in the women’s draw by her Rio 2016 bronze medal-winning doubles partner Lucy Shuker, who earned her NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters qualification by winning the US Open USTA Championships at the weekend for back-to-back titles that have seen her move up to places to No. 8 in the last two weeks.
The 31-year-old, from Fleet, said:
“I went out to the USA so close after the Paralympics in order to qualify for the singles Masters after a tough year which focused primarily on doubles ahead Rio. So I’m delighted to have regained the world No.8 spot and look forward to competing again in London.”
The top eight ranked men’s and women’s players and top six quad players at the ITF ranking list cut-off of 10 October qualify for the Masters making it one of the most prestigious events on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour.