Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne made history on Friday as he partnered Australia’s Dylan Alcott to win the inaugural wheelchair tennis Quad Doubles title at Wimbledon.
It’s amazing, To be the first ever quad doubles team going up on that winners’ board means everything to me and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow now Andy Lapthorne
Broadcast live on BBC2, the contest saw Lapthorne and Alcott wrap up their first Grand Slam title together after a 6-2, 7-6(4) victory over American David Wagner and Japan’s Koji Sugeno.
Lapthorne and Alcott raced into a 3-0 lead after just 12 minutes and Lapthorne served out the opening set to complete another run of three games. Lapthorne then served out to love to force the second set tie-break, with Alcott benefitting from a net cord to bring up match point. The world No.1 converted at the first time of asking with a perfectly placed lob to seal the historic victory over an hour and 26 minutes.
This year will see quad wheelchair singles and doubles events feature in all four Grand Slam tournaments for the first time, joining the established men’s and women’s events. Players are eligible to compete in the quad division if they have a permanent physical disability that results in significant loss of function in three or more limbs, while also fulfilling the sport’s minimum disability criteria.
Lapthorne is already a multiple Grand Slam champion, having won seven doubles titles at the Australian Open and US Open as well as the US Open singles title in 2014. This win on the grass at SW19 was, however, an extra special moment for the 28-year-old Londoner, who first visited Wimbledon at the age of nine and who cites the tournament being the reason he started playing tennis.
Lapthorne, who now plays Alcott in Saturday’s quad singles final, said: “It’s amazing, To be the first ever quad doubles team going up on that winners’ board means everything to me and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow now. You had a mix of Aussies and Londoners cheering for one team, it was great, and the court was full to the brim with people queueing to get in. To come here and play in front of a home crows is always amazing. And again, there’s the tremendous support from the BBC and Wimbledon to get us out on live TV. So hopefully there are some disabled people at home who have watched that and will be inspired to come and try wheelchair tennis.”
“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. One of the main reasons I got into it was watching my hero Leyton Hewitt, when he was winning Wimbledon, and Tim Henman, another big hero of mine.”
Lapthorne is 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.
LTA Performance Director, Simon Timson, said: “It was great to see Andy come through a tight match to win the first ever wheelchair tennis Quad Doubles title today. He’s worked hard all year and it was fantastic to see him lifting the trophy today.”
Great Britain is regarded as one of the leading nations in the world for disability tennis, with elite level success like Lapthorne’s continuing to raise the profile of the sport and drive awareness of how tennis is a sport that is open and accessible. The LTA’s disability tennis programme is one of the largest of any sport, with record numbers of disabled people now picking up a racket and having fun playing tennis.