Great Britain’s Lucy Shuker, Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid and Andy Lapthorne have all qualified to take part in the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in Loughborough next month – the season finale to the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis World Tour.
The International Tennis Federation’s season-ending championship for the world’s top wheelchair singles players will be hosted once again in Great Britain by the Tennis Foundation, with this year’s event being held from 29 November to 3 December at Loughborough University Tennis Centre.
The British quartet are among a star-studded list of 22 players from 11 different nations who will be battling for honours, including multiple Paralympic medallists and Grand Slam champions. Qualification for each of the men’s, women’s and quad singles is based on ranking points achieved across what has been another sensational season for players on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme.
No other country will be represented by more players at the prestige event than Great Britain, with only the Netherlands matching the British total of four players.
World No.3 and Roland Garros champion Alfie Hewett, is relishing the opportunity to challenge for more silverware: “It’s been a great season for me and I’m looking forward to trying to finish the year on a high. It’s always great to play in front of a good crowd and being a home event it means that little bit extra. The top eight is really open this year, so it’s going to be very interesting.”
Looking ahead to Loughborough, 2016 NEC Masters finalist Gordon Reid said: “I’ve had a mixed year, but I’ve had a bit of a break since the US Open so I feel refreshed and I’m looking forward to getting back to competing. If you’ve not seen wheelchair tennis before, come and give it a go – there are plenty of British players to support, so come and make some noise for us.”
In the women’s singles, British No.1 Lucy Shuker is looking forward to competing again in front of a passionate home crowd: “I’m very excited that I’ll be once again competing alongside the very best wheelchair tennis players in the world. The Tennis Foundation has really raised the level of the event so I’m looking forward to experiencing another memorable Masters tournament.”
In the quad singles, Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne will be aiming to overcome nine-time champion David Wagner to win his first Masters title. Lapthorne said: “This has been a pretty good year for me, probably one of the best of my career other than winning a singles Grand Slam. My eyes all year have been on that year-end world No. 1 ranking, so my aim is win the Masters and see where that takes me.”
In staging the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in Loughborough, the Tennis Foundation is using the event as a platform to both raise the profile of tennis as a sport for disabled people and drive wider participation in tennis in the region.
As part of a community outreach programme, special arrangements are in place for schools and community groups who wish to attend the 2017 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters. Any formally organised group of people such as clubs, societies, voluntary organisations and charities are also welcome – groups can find out more at www.wheelchairtennismasters.com.
Report courtesy of the Tennis Foundation