Britain’s Grand Slam champions and Paralympic medalists Alfie Hewett, Andy Lapthorne and Lucy Shuker are among a star-studded cast of players for the ground-breaking trio of wheelchair tennis events set to take place at the cinch Championships, the Rothesay Classic Birmingham and the Rothesay International Eastbourne during the grass court tournaments, on 17-19 June and 23-25 June.
While it’s the third year that the men’s ITF 2 wheelchair tennis event at The Queen’s Club has had world ranking status, this week sees the Edgbaston Priory Club host the first quad division grass court ranking tournament outside of Wimbledon.
Next week’s women’s wheelchair event at Devonshire Park will also be the first wheelchair ranking tournament to be held at the Sussex venue as three of our premier grass court tournaments host wheelchair events for the first time.
Current world No.2 Hewett, who won the inaugural men’s wheelchair ranking tournament at The Queen’s Club in 2019, said: “It’s always exciting returning to Queen’s Club as you know that Wimbledon is not that far away and the home crowd support is always great . It’s one of the tournaments during the season that I really look forward to. I’ve been in good shape so far this year and I’m looking to bring a strong performance and hopefully I can regain the title I won in 2019.”
Four-time Wimbledon doubles champion Hewett is joined in this year’s cinch Championships field by Belgium’s world No.7 Joachim Gerardthe 2021 Wimbledon champion, as well as world No.5-ranked Frenchman stephane houdet.
Among those completing the field are Britain’s top three junior players, Ben Bartram, Dahnon Ward and Andrew Penney. Bartram and Ward have thrived in the first half of 2021, including dominating the boys’ singles and doubles events at the Wheelchair Tennis Junior Masters, while Ward and Penney were more recently part of Great Britain’s silver medal-winning junior team at the World Team Cup , where Bartram made his senior Great Britain debut alongside Hewett.
History will be made at the Rothesay Class Birmingham from Friday, when world No.3 Lapthorne will line up alongside fellow Great Britain World Team Cup medalists Antony Cotterill and james shaw in the first quad division grass-court world ranking tournament to take place outside of Wimbledon.
Fifteen-time Grand Slam champion Lapthorne, who is two-time quad doubles champion at Wimbledon, said: “It’s been an exciting few years for the quad division and increased opportunities at the Grand Slams and I’m proud to have been at the heart of those changes and proud of having created history on the courts with three Wimbledon finals and two doubles titles to my name.
“I’m really looking forward to us making our debut in Birmingham and showing quad tennis to the home fans ahead of the increased draw of eight quad players at Wimbledon in a few weeks.”
At next week’s first ever women’s wheelchair draw at the Rothesay International Eastbourne, Shuker is set to be among five top 10 ranked players, including world No.1 and three-time Wimbledon champion diede de groot of the Netherlands and world No.2 and six-time Wimbledon doubles champion yui kamiji of Japan, winner of last year’s first ever women’s wheelchair event at the Birmingham Classic.
World No.7 Shuker, who contested her fifth Wimbledon doubles final last year, said: “It’s great that the LTA have provided all wheelchair divisions and opportunity to compete on the grass ahead of Wimbledon alongside the WTA and ATP players. It’s the first year for the women at Eastbourne and I’m looking forward to joining the line-up. It’s always looked like an amazing event and there’s always a great buzz around tennis in the UK at this time of the year.”
South Africa’s world No.4 Kgothatso Montjane, the 2021 singles finalist at the All England Club, and China’s Zhenzhen Zhu are also among an impressive line-up that includes British No.2 Cornelia Oosthuizen, 19-year-old Abbie Breakwell and 18- year-old Ruby Bishop, who are all enjoying breakthrough seasons on the ITF’s UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
Streaming of wheelchair tennis matches at the cinch Championships will be available across LTA digital and social media channels.