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Paralympic Sports: Wheelchair Tennis

Dylan Alcott and Andy Lapthorne make Wimbledon history

Pair takes first quad wheelchair doubles final in London 13 Jul 2019
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Two male wheelchair tennis players holding a trophy on a grass court

Dylan Alcott of Australia and Andy Lapthorne of Great Britain celebrate Wimbledon's quad title

ⒸTakeo Tanuma
By ITF

“To be here in the first place was a massive achievement, it has taken a lot of time and effort. And then to come and play doubles with Dylan, who is a good mate of mine, and to be the first ever doubles team to be up on that board, it means everything.”

It was standing room only at Court No. 14, as a backhand winner by Dylan Alcott made Wimbledon history.

 

The Australian roared and celebrated wildly with his British partner Andy Lapthorne, after the shot handed the pair a 6-2, 7-6(4) victory in the first quad wheelchair doubles final at Wimbledon against Japan’s Koji Sugeno and David Wagner of USA.

 

“It’s amazing,” said Lapthorne, who had campaigned for quad wheelchair players to become an integral part of the Wimbledon Championships.

 

“To be here in the first place was a massive achievement, it has taken a lot of time and effort. And then to come and play doubles with Dylan, who is a good mate of mine, and to be the first ever doubles team to be up on that board, it means everything.”

 

At one point during the first set, it suddenly dawned on Alcott and Lapthorne how big the occasion was.

 

“We were laughing,and saying ‘We are at Wimbledon now...This is sick,’” said Alcott. “The sun was out, the grass, people were drinking Pimm’s and I was like ‘This is awesome.’ We really enjoyed ourselves,” he added.

 

“We got a mix of Aussies and Londoners, all cheering for the one team, it was great,” said Lapthorne. “And the stadium was full to the brim, people queueing to get in and outside, which is always amazing. This sport has come so far since I started playing.”

 

Friends and rivals

 

Having teamed up for the doubles, the two friends will play each other for the inaugural quad wheelchair singles title on Saturday.

 

“In the tiebreaker, we both played really well,” said Alcott, a five-time Australian Open winner. “I think it will be a quality singles final [on Saturdau] because we are both loving the grass, slice and dice.”

 

In the men’s wheelchair singles, Japanese legend Shingo

 

Kunieda continued his quest to equal Esther Vergeer’s all-time record of 44 grand slam titles, as he knocked out the defending champion Stefan Olsson of Sweden, 4-6 6-2 6-3.

 

“I could play aggressive from one set down,” Kunieda said.

 

Vergeer retired in 2013 after an incredible 10-year, 470-match win streak, which included 21 Grand Slam singles titles and 23 major doubles title.

 

After winning the Roland-Garros doubles title last month, Kunieda is now one short of Vergeer’s total haul.

 

And that’s not the only bit of history on the line for the 35-year-old: he could also become the first men’s wheelchair player to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles at the same time if he wins his first Wimbledon singles final.

 

Kunieda said he doesn’t want to think about the history books just yet.

 

“I don’t compare against her,” he said.

 

Kunieda, the top seed, will play Gustavo Fernandez in the men’s final on Sunday. The second-seeded Argentine reached the final with a 6-0 6-4 defeat of French veteran Stephane Houdet.

 

“It is a very tough one, I lost three weeks ago against him on (a) hard court,” said Kunieda. “And I played here very well, so I continue, I hope.”

 

Kunieda is hitting top form a year before he will be one of the big stars of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

 

Wheelchair tennis “is getting popular in my country,” he said. “It should be an exciting event next year.”

 

All-Dutch women's final

 

The women’s singles final will be an all-Dutch affair, with the top-seeded Diede de Groot taking on Aniek van Koot on Saturday.

 

De Groot, who became the first player to hold all four majors at the same time last month after winning on the clay of Roland-Garros, dropped just five games against South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane.

 

The unseeded Van Koot had no trouble against the second-seeded Yui Kamiji of Japan, winning their semifinal 6-3 6-4.

 

Read more at https://www.itftennis.com/news/308895.aspx#WwvgXzOzGiVQop9m.99