US Open champions Ward and Lapthorne among Brits in strong Abingdon Futures entry
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International wheelchair tennis returns to Oxfordshire for the first time since 2019 this week as we host the Abingdon Futures tournament at the White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre from 21-23 October.
The last of seven world ranking events on the International Tennis Federation’s UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour to be held in Britain this year, this week’s tournament entry features players from nine countries and welcomes two US Open champions for the first time.
Seventeen-year-old Dahnon Ward, the winner of the junior singles title in Abingdon in 2019, plays his first tournament since winning the inaugural US Open junior wheelchair doubles title last month, where he also reached junior singes final.
Ward, who is part of our Wheelchair National Age Group Programme, returns to Abingdon as men’s singles top seed this year and is aiming to translate his success in junior competition into a first senior international singles title.
“I’ve come a long way since my win in Abingdon in 2019 and on that occasion it was one of the biggest wins at that stage of my career, so I’m really looking forward to coming back," said Ward.
"I’ve got so much more experience now and I’ve seen a lot of improvements on court and on paper this year, so I think I’m in a good position for what would be my first ITF Futures title. It’s been a long time coming and I’m looking forward to showcasing my ability.”
Alongside Ward are fellow US Open junior competitors Joshua Johns and Andrew Penney and entries from Ireland, Italy, India, Pakistan and the USA. 15-time Grand Slam champion Andy Lapthorne adds an added level of intrigue to the men’s draw.
Two-time US Open champion and three-time Paralympic medallist Lapthorne is among the leading British players in the quad singles rankings for players who have an impairment in three or more limbs and will seek to test himself against unfamiliar opposition as he builds up to the sport’s year-end singles and doubles Masters, which begin later this month in the Netherlands.
The quad singles draw at this year’s Abingdon Futures will see Oxfordshire’s 15-year-old Oliver Cox make his debut in a senior world ranking draw. Cox, from Watchfield, is also supported by the Wheelchair National Age Group Programme and while he faces tough opposition in the form of 2019 Abingdon runner-up Gary Cox and multiple National champion James Shaw, he will look to build on his success at last month’s School Games National Finals, where he was a gold and silver medallist.
While Israel’s Maayan Zikri heads the entry for the women’s singles, Britain’s Abbie Breakwell and Ruby Bishop will both aim to be among the title contenders. Breakwell won her first senior international title at the 2019 tournament alongside fellow Brit Louise Hunt Skelley and the 19-year-old arrives in Oxfordshire this time in good form after winning her eighth international doubles title over the weekend in Portugal.
Meanwhile, Bishop will arrive in Abingdon on the back of winning her first senior international singles title at the Plock Cup ITF Future in Poland over the weekend, while wheelchair basketball Paralympic medallist Robyn Love continues her wheelchair tennis journey after winning her first international singles in Italy last month.
Two-time Paralympian Louise Hunt Skelley, who won the women’s singles title and partnered Breakwell to the women’s doubles title in Abingdon in 2019, is the Tournament Director for this year’s tournament after calling time on her competitive career in 2021.
“I was thrilled to win the last international titles of my career on home soil in Abingdon in 2019 and I’m equally thrilled to be returning as Tournament Director this year," she said. "We have a strong international entry but also an exciting array of Brits headlined by players across the different tiers of the LTA’s Wheelchair Tennis Performance Pathway and players who have established international careers in other sports who are transitioning their talents to wheelchair tennis. I would encourage anyone who has never watched wheelchair tennis to come down to the White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre for a fascinating three days of competition.