A ground-breaking Wimbledon for wheelchair tennis saw Brits Andy Lapthorne, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid laud the support of the home crowds after they contested the last of three finals with home interest.
Wimbledon is the reason I got involved in tennis. If it hadn’t been for Wimbledon and going to Wimbledon as a kid I wouldn’t have played tennis. Andy Lapthorne
Lapthorne made history on Friday, partnering Australia’s Dylan Alcott to win the first ever quad wheelchair doubles title to be contested at The Championships. However, a brace of titles proved elusive for the 28-year-old Londoner as the two players went head-to-head in Saturday’s first ever Wimbledon quad singles final, world No. 1 Alcott winning 6-0 6-2 to continue his unbeaten sequence at the Grand Slams this year.
World No.3 Lapthorne, who now has nine Grand Slam titles to his name after he and Alcott beat David Wagner of the USA and Japan’s Koji Sugeno 6-2 7-6(4), said: “It’s been brilliant, I really enjoyed yesterday and for us to be the first team on that board is something no one can take away. I’ve loved today, even though Dylan outplayed me. but if you don’t bring your ‘A game’ Dylan can do that to you. He’s No. 1 for a reason.
“Wimbledon is the reason I got involved in tennis.” Lapthorne said. “If it hadn’t been for Wimbledon and going to Wimbledon as a kid I wouldn’t have played tennis. I don’t play to come second, but I’ll get over it. The support has been fantastic, so you have to go away, rebuild and go again. Hopefully seeing us on live TV will inspire others to take up wheelchair tennis.”
Lapthorne beat world No.2 Wagner to reach Saturday’s inaugural Wimbledon quad singles final and while he was runner-up to Wagner after a close final at the 2018 British Open, a return to the Super Series tournament at Nottingham Tennis Centre at the end of this month (23 – 28 July) now beckons, as it does for three-time Wimbledon doubles champions Hewett and Reid and four-time Wimbledon ladies’ doubles champion Jordanne Whiley.
Hewett and Reid’s quest for a fourth Wimbledon gentlemen’s doubles title ended in a 6-4,6-3 loss to second seeds Joachim Gerard of Belgium and Stefan Olsson of Sweden on Saturday.
However, with Hewett and Reid having beaten top seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer in the semi-finials, the reigning US Open champions are now looking ahead to returning to the British Open, where they secured their first major doubles title together in 2015.
World No. 3 Hewett, the reigning US Open men’s singles champion and two-time doubles champion with Reid, said: “It wasn’t to be today, but our level has still continued to improve compared to earlier in the year and so that’s a real positive as we kick on to the British Open and then the USA. Being back on Court Three today was brilliant, having the numbers we had and the British crowd behind us right the very last point.”
Reid added: “We probably gave them too many cheap points in a tight first set and then again in the second set. The second game in that second set lasted about ten minutes and we just weren’t as clinical on the big points as we were yesterday.”
With Whiley having contested her first Wimbledon since 2017 after returning from maternity leave in February, the British No. 1 will now bid to extend her British Open winning streak as she returns to Nottingham for the first time since sealing the second of back-to-back British Open titles in 2016.
Lapthorne, Hewett, Reid and Whiley are part of the LTA’s World Class Performance Programme for wheelchair tennis, which sees all of the leading British players supported by the LTA’s Performance team behind the scenes with coaching, physiotherapy, analysis and sports science.
The upcoming British Open is also part of the LTA’s summer of major events, with the tournament one of just six worldwide to have Super Series status, the highest tier of wheelchair tennis event outside of the Grand Slams.