Nottingham | Wheelchair Tennis Superstars ready for British Open
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Britain’s leading wheelchair tennis players will compete with the best players in the world at the 30th British Open in Nottingham, an LTA summer event, next week.
The action gets underway on Tuesday 23 July and runs until Sunday 28 July, with finals taking place on both the Saturday and Sunday.
The fifth of six ‘Super Series’ events staged around the world, the tournament is now one of the leading competitions on the international wheelchair tennis calendar outside of the Grand Slams.
The LTA has invested in making the event free for all spectators, with another record crowd expected at Nottingham Tennis Centre to watch the world class tennis action over the course of the week.
This year’s field features 11 Brits among the 64 players competing, and features almost all of the world’s top 40 players across the men, women and quad divisions – including those who starred at Wimbledon last week.
Providing an added edge, crucial ranking points are at stake this year as players vie to secure qualification for next year’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The move is part of the national governing body’s ambition to open up the sport to many more people, showcase the performances of the leading British players, and raise the profile of tennis as a sport for disabled people.
No British man has ever won the British Open title but Norfolk’s Alfie Hewett and Scotland’s Gordon Reid will be hoping to change that this year. Both are previous finalists at the event, and having been the winner and runner-up respectively at Queen’s last month they will be aiming for more success on home soil.
They will have to overcome the challenge of a cast of current and previous Grand Slam champions – including last week’s Wimbledon winner and new world No.1 Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina. Also in the field will be one of the all-time greats of wheelchair tennis, Shingo Kunieda of Japan, as well as French duo Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer, Belgium’s Joachim Gerrard and Sweden’s Stefan Olsson.
Northamptonshire’s Dermot Bailey has his sights firmly set on being part of the British team in Tokyo, and will be hoping a home crowd can help him continue his progress up the world rankings.
One of the highlights of the event will be the men’s doubles, with Hewett and Reid joining together once again for a partnership that has seen them become one of the best pairings in the world.
World top 10 players Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker will be aiming for glory in the women’s event, with the two-time Paralympic doubles bronze medallists each having been previous Super Series singles title winners. For former winner Whiley, it will be a first return to the British Open since 2016 after giving birth at the end of January 2018.
Aiming to defend her title in Nottingham will be world No.1 and holder of three of the four Grand Slam singles titles, Diede De Groot of the Netherlands. The 22-year-old made history earlier this year by becoming the first wheelchair player to hold singles title at all four Grand Slams at the same time. Aniek van Koot and Japanese star Yui Kamiji will also compete.
World No.3 Andy Lapthorne, who won the inaugural Wimbledon Men’s Quads Final last week, will be aiming to claim his first British Open singles title. It’s also a huge tournament for local star James Shaw, who learnt to play tennis on the courts of Nottingham Tennis Centre and now trains there.
Shaw, along with fellow Brits Antony Cotterill and Richard Green, is targeting a rise up the world rankings to earn a place at Tokyo 2020, with every win at the British Open helping to make that dream become close to reality.
Tickets for the event are free and will be streamed live on the BBC Sport website from Wednesday 25th July. Fans can also keep up-to-date with all the latest news and behind-the-scenes action on the LTA website and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Alongside the main draw, there are once again tournaments for juniors and for up and coming players looking to progress towards international competition, as well as a free ‘Come & Try’ session on Saturday 27 July where anyone have a go at playing tennis in a wheelchair!