Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid headline Loughborough Indoor Wheelchair Tennis Tournament
• 3 MINUTE READ
An array of Grand Slam champions and Paralympic medallists head the entry for the Loughborough Indoor Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, which will take place from Tuesday 23 March to Saturday 27 March at the Loughborough University Tennis Centre.
The event will be the first LTA international competition staged in Britain in almost 12 months, since the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Loughborough University Tennis Centre will hold an international wheelchair tennis tournament for the first time since 2017 – when it played host to the Wheelchair Tennis Masters, the sport’s year-end singles championship.
Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid contested the men’s singles final on that occasion and the Rio Paralympic gold and silver medallists head the world-class entry this week as players from 16 countries vie for the titles in Loughborough.
“After successful trips to Australia and the Netherlands this year it’s really exciting to now have the opportunity to play another international event in Britain and to return to Loughborough,” said Reid, the World No.5.
“I’ve got some good memories of competing at the Masters in 2017, I’ve been in decent form this season and I’ll be doing all I can to try and ensure that I come away with the title this week.”
While nine players from the world’s top 20 line up for the men’s singles, Britain’s 10-time Grand Slam champion Jordanne Whiley and recent Australian Open doubles finalist Lucy Shuker are among seven of the world’s top 20 players who will bid for the women’s singles title.
With Dutch World No.3 Aniek van Koot the top seed for the women’s singles, world No.4 Whiley, has high expectations in a field that also features American world No. 10 Dana Mathewson and Rio Paralympic gold medallist Jiske Griffioen.
“I’m excited because I haven’t played an international event since October,” said Whiley.
“I’ve not been able to do as much training as normal, but I’ve been hitting well and feel like I’m in a good place.
“I’m really glad the LTA have been able to put Loughborough on, as otherwise my next tournament probably wouldn’t be until the end of May. I expect to win, but there are plenty of good players, such as Aniek, Dana and Jiske, so I think it will be a really good level of competition.”
The week’s tournament include many players o the LTA’s Wheelchair World Class Pathway who train in Loughborough, including James Shaw and fellow Brit Antony Cotterill, who join American world No.12 Bryan Barten among the leading contenders for the quad singles title.
“I’ve been training really hard over the winter, so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Shaw. I ended 2020 by winning in Prague, so I really want to keep that momentum going.
“Normally with a local tournament, I can have family and friends around and I can stay at home. Obviously, this time it’s a bit different with the protocols, but being at the venue where I train it will feel like home and hopefully gives me a bit of an advantage.”
Just the second event on the International Tennis Federation’s UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour to be held in Europe in 2021, this week’s tournament also gives some of Britain’s younger players the chance to impress and gain valuable international experience against senior opposition.
They include 15-year-old Dahnon Ward and 17-year-old Abbie Breakwell, who train with Shaw in Loughborough and are members of the LTA’s Wheelchair National Age Group Programme.
Ward, who won the ITF’s Junior Wheelchair Tennis Player of the Year Award last year, joins World No.1 ranked-junior Ben Bartram and, Hewett and Reid, in the men’s singles.
Breakwell will join Whiley and Shuker in the field for the women’s singles.