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British Open preview: The world’s best wheelchair tennis players get set to descend on Nottingham

Britain’s leading wheelchair tennis players will be mixing it with the best players on the planet at the 30th British Open in Nottingham next week.

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.

This year’s field features 11 Brits among the 64 players competing, and is arguably the strongest ever assembled with almost all of the world’s top 40 players across the men, women and quad divisions in action – 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 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. The move is part of our 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. The action gets underway on Tuesday 23 July and runs until Sunday 28 July, with finals taking place on both the Saturday and Sunday.

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!

Men’s Draw: Reid and Hewett aim to make history

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.

To achieve that 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.

Women’s Draw: Whiley and Shuker lead British challenge

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 becoming a mum 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.

Among her leading challengers in Nottingham will be countrywoman and her conqueror in the Wimbledon final last week, Aniek van Koot, and Japanese star Yui Kamiji. Of the sport’s current top three ranked women’s players, Van Koot is the only one to yet add her name to the British Open roll of honour.

Quad Draw: Lapthorne aiming for first title

Last week was an historic one for Quad wheelchair tennis, which is for players who have a permanent physical disability that results in significant loss of function in three or more limbs, as Wimbledon staged its first ever quad events.

Lifting the Wimbledon doubles title there was a special moment for Londoner and world No.3 Andy Lapthorne, who will be aiming to claim his first British Open singles title having reached four of the last five finals in Nottingham.

It’s 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.

Competition for the title in Nottingham will come from South Africa’s Lucas Sithole, Japan’s Koji Sugeno, Dutch 19-year-old Sam Schroder and Australia’s Heath Davidson. Sithole, whose 2013 British Open victory saw him become the first African player to win a Super Series title, remains one of the sport’s most colourful and iconic characters.

Catch courtside action 

Watch world class tennis in Nottingham and secure your seat today for free. If you can’t make it in person, there will be live streaming on the BBC Sport website for the last four days of the tournament.

Fans can also keep up-to-date with all the latest news and behind-the-scenes action on the LTA website and on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Wimbledon: Brits inspire appetite for wheelchair tennis after contesting trio of Wimbledon finals

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.

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 narrowly beaten in doubles final

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.

Fery and Samuel's strong run comes to an end

Arthur Fery and Toby Samuel were unable to progress into the boys' doubles final despite a battling performance. The duo's run came to an end after they were beaten by No.7 seeds Draxi and Nanda 6-4, 6-3.

Secure your seat at the British Open

Don't miss your chance to watch more world class wheelchair tennis at the British Open Wheelchair Championships in Nottingham. Tickets are free of charge!

Wimbledon: Lapthorne and Alcott lift inaugural quad doubles title

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.

Broadcast live on BBC2, the contest saw Lapthorne and Alcott clinch 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. He went on to seal the historic victory with a perfectly placed lob, to wrap up the final in an hour and 26 minutes.

2019 will see quad wheelchair singles and doubles events feature in all four Grand Slams 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 cites the tournament being the reason he started playing tennis.

Lapthorne, who will 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 the singles final now.

“Wimbledon is the reason I got involved in tennis. If it hadn’t been for Wimbledon and going there 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.”

Hewett and Reid battle to reach final 

Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid are now one step closer to lifting the men's wheelchair doubles title for a fourth consecutive year after they defeated Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer. The British duo captured the first set 6-3, but the French top seeds were resilient and took the second 6-2. It all came down to a deciding set tie-break, which went in Hewett and Reid's favour as they sealed a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) victory. They will face second seeds Joachim Gerard and Stefan Olsson on Saturday in the final. 

10-time Grand Slam champion Jordanne Whiley was also in doubles action with Yui Kamiji, but the pair lost a hard-fought 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-1 battle to Dutch top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek Van Koot. 

Fery and Samuel step into semis 

Arthuer Fery and Toby Samuel earned their place in the semi-finals of the boys' doubles with a confident 6-3, 6-2 win over Brandon Nakashima and Valentin Royer. They will take on seventh seeds Liam Draxl and Govind Nanda for a spot in the final. 

Elsewhere, Connor Thomson and Jacob Fearnley's impressive run ended in a 6-3, 7-5 defeat during their final-eight clash to American third seeds Martin Damm and Toby Kodat. 

Back the Brits and follow the action!

The BBC is providing live coverage and fans can keep up-to-date with all the latest news on the Brits by following the LTA on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Wimbledon: Lapthorne wins on debut to reach final

Thursday saw 13 Brits in action across wheelchair, mixed doubles and juniors draws, headlined by Andy Lapthorne impressively winning on debut.  

2019 marks the first time there have been draws for quad wheelchair singles and doubles events, following a successful exhibition match last year. Andy Lapthorne certainly rose to the occasion in his opening round clash, defeating American second seed David Wagner 7-5, 6-4 to reach the final. The 2014 US Open champion, who also has seven Grand Slam doubles titles to his name, will face doubles partner Dylan Alcott on Saturday for a shot at claiming the inaugural title.  

Gordon Reid was denied a place in the semi-finals after falling 6-1, 6-1 to top seed Shingo Kuneida. The two-time singles and nine-time doubles Grand Slam champion will return to action on Friday when he begins his doubles campaign with Alfie Hewett. The British duo have won the title for the past three consecutive years so will be looking to seize a fourth together.  

Two-time singles and five-time doubles Grand Slam winner Hewett was also unable to advance in the singles as second seed Gustavo Fernandez scored a 6-1, 6-3 win. 

Ten-time (one singles and nine doubles) Grand Slam champion Jordanne Whiley was competing in her first match at Wimbledon since 2017. She faced second seed Yui Kamiji, who proved too strong and prevailed 6-4, 6-1. Whiley and Kamiji will be united on Friday, but this time on the same side of the net as they kickstart their campaign to capture a fifth Wimblerdon title together. 

In the mixed doubles, Evan Hoyt and Edan Silva's epic journey came to an end in the quarter-finals. The pair dug deep against eighth seeds Ivan Dodig and Latisha Chan, but eventually suffered a tight 7-5, 7-6(5) loss. 

Meanwhile, Arthur Fery and Toby Samuel advanced to the boys' doubles quarter-finals after defeating Taha Baadi and Filip Cristian Jianu 6-2, 6-2, and Jacob Fearnley and Connor Thomson joined them by battling past American duo Eliot Spizzirri and Tyler Zink 6-4, 3-6, [11-9]. 

Anton Matusevich's run in the boys' singles ended in the quarter-finals as he fell 6-3, 6-3 to Japanese eighth seed Shintaro Mochizuki, and Holly Fischer and Matilda Mutavdzic fought hard but lost 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to American seventh seeds Chloe Beck and Emma Navarro.   

Back the Brits and follow the action!

The BBC is providing live coverage and fans can keep up-to-date with all the latest news on the Brits by following the LTA on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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