Great Britain’s overall performance at last weekend’s 2022 BNP Paribas World Team Cup – the wheelchair tennis equivalent of the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup – ensured that their men’s, women’s and junior wheelchair teams will qualify for next year’s event.
The fourth participating group, Great Britain’s quad team – including debutants Richard Green and Ruby Bishop – finished seventh in their event and will provisionally need to qualify for the 2023 World Team Cup, this despite beating second seeds and nine-time champions USA during the course of this year’s competition.
The British men’s team, seeded 6, ended the weekend in Vilamoura, Portugal, in fifth place overall, courtesy of Norfolk duo Alfie Hewett and Ben Bartram winning both of their play-off matches over Malaysia pairing Abu Samah Borham and Yusshazwan Yusoff Mohamad.
World No.1 Hewett defeated Borhan, 6-3 6-1 and 16-yea- old world No.2 ranked junior Bartram defeated Mohamad 6-2 6-1, which in the event, was some consolation for their 2-1 loss to eventual champions The Netherlands in the quarter finals.
The top seeded Netherlands women’s team also defeated Great Britain’s women’s team in their decisive round robin group match which denied the latter a place in the semis.
The British team of Cornelia Oosthuizen, Abbie Breakwell and Ruby Bishop did defeat Brazil 2-1, but hopes of a fifth-place finish were dashed by the fourth seeded French team who triumphed over the Brits to leave them in 6th place overall.
It was, perhaps, the British juniors, who shone the brightest, claiming their third successive World Team Cup silver medal.
Coming into the event on the back of 11 singles and doubles victories in four events, they were confident of winning gold in Sunday’s final against the Australian junior team but in the event, it was the Australians who denied the Brits their first ever gold in a tie which went to the wire.
After Joshua Johns and Dahnon Ward had split the first two singles matches with Australia’s Riley Dumsday and Saalim Naser, 16 year-old Ward then partnered with Andrew Penney against Dumsday and Naser in the deciding doubles.
It was the Australians who took the initiative, winning the first set 6-1, and then recovering from 4-2 down in the second to eventually take the match, the title and the gold medal.
Rob Cross, Head Coach of the LTA’s Wheelchair Tennis performance Pathway, was understandably delighted with the outcome.
“We’ve had another successful World Team Cup campaign, with the highlight being a third successive medal for our Great Britain junior team,” he said. “The boys are obviously disappointed not to win the gold medal this year after two silver medals in each of the last two World Team Cups but have gained valuable experience ahead of trying to go one better next year. With a squad of players that was missing some of our Paralympic medallists, we leave Portugal with three of our four teams having qualified directly for next year’s World Team Cup and our men’s and women’s teams, both of which included players making their senior Great Britain debuts at the World Team Cup finals, both exceeding their event seedings of six and seven, respectively. There is much to be proud of as we look forward to a bright future.”