Six Brits set for history-making inaugural US Open Junior Wheelchair Tennis Championships
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While Great Britain’s senior wheelchair tennis players have won a total of 17 titles at the US Open since 2014, six of Britain’s leading younger players are among those aiming to add to that tally and make history in New York from 8-10 September, when a junior wheelchair tennis event is contested at a Grand Slam for the first time.
Ben Bartram, Dahnon Ward, Andrew Penney, Joshua Johns, Ruby Bishop and Ellie Robertson have all qualified to contest the boys’ or girls’ draws at the inaugural US Open Junior Wheelchair Tennis Championships. They will be joined in New York by Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid, Lucy Shuker and Andy Lapthorne, who return to the final major of the year to contest the senior men’s, women's and quad draws from 7-11 September.
17-year-old Bartram, world No.2 in the ITF’s junior wheelchair tennis rankings, will bid to add his second major boys’ singles title of 2022, having started his season by winning the prestigious Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters title in Tarbes, France, where he also partnered Ward to win the boys’ doubles title.
Bartram who is currently on a winning sequence of six successive international senior titles after a spectacular summer, is set to be top seed for the boys’ singles in New York.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for wheelchair tennis, it’s just brilliant to see how the Grand Slams are being more inclusive after putting wheelchair tennis on Court 1 at Wimbledon, starting to increase the draw sizes and now bringing in junior wheelchair tennis", he said. "The sport is growing so quickly and it’s great to see.”
While Penney is also on course to be seeded for the boys’ singles and Bartram and Ward seeded for the boys’ doubles, British players have high hopes of vying for the titles in both singles and doubles events over the course of the three-day tournament, with 18-year-old world No.3 ranked junior Bishop set to be seeded for the girls’ singles in the absence of the Dutch world No.1.
Bishop, one of three players from Norfolk, alongside Bartram and Hewett, who will be competing for wheelchair titles in New York, said: “I'm excited just to go to the US Open and be around that Grand Slam environment.
"Apart from Wimbledon I haven't been to any others yet. Obviously, everyone goes into it wanting to win, so I'm excited to put my level of tennis out there and see where that can take me. Of course, I would like to make history and win the first title.”
Bartram, Penney, Ward and Bishop have long since secured their places inside the upper echelons of the junior world rankings and have had their sights set on the US Open Junior Wheelchair Tennis Championships since the event was announced in June. But with only the top seven boys and top seven girls guaranteed direct qualification for the historic event at the entry cut-off in mid-August, Johns and Robertson have ensure their qualification with some impressive results during a highly successful summer for players across the LTA’s Wheelchair Tennis Performance Pathway.
Johns was world ranked No.21 at the end of June before improving his junior ranking to No.7 by the end of July after reaching the finals of the British Open Junior Championships in Nottingham and the Amjoy Cup in the Netherlands, completing the month with victory at the European Junior Camp also in the Netherlands.
World ranked No.10 at the end of June, 17-year-old Robertson improved her junior ranking to No.7 by the beginning of August after finishing runner-up to fellow Brit Bishop at the ITF’s junior European Junior Camp, which has been a launch pad for many of Britain’s future champions over many years.