The Tennis Foundation has named a strong Great Britain wheelchair tennis squad of 11 players for the 2011 World Team Cup in Pretoria, South Africa from 25 April - 1 May.
Great Britain teams will contest each of the men’s, women, quad and junior events when the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) flagship wheelchair tennis competition takes place in Africa for the first time.
Britain’s top three men’s players, David Phillipson, Gordon Reid and Marc McCarroll will aim to repeat their fine performance of 2010 in Turkey, when they steered Great Britain to fourth place in men’s World Group 1 – the first time since 2002 that a Great Britain men’s team had reached the semi-finals.
“This is our version of the Davis Cup and Fed Cup and so obviously it’s very important,” said current British No 1 and world No 11, Phillipson. “The event’s given me some great memories in recent years, winning the junior title with Great Britain in 2007 and then men’s World Group 2 title in 2008 before some great results in the last two years, so we are looking forward to South Africa and can hopefully produce another good performance.”
With British No 1 Lucy Shuker currently recovering from injury, Jordanne Whiley and Louise Hunt again join forces to attempt to steer Great Britain to a place in at least the semi-finals for the third year in succession. Whiley and Hunt were in the same team as Shuker when Great Britain reached the women’s final for the first time in the event’s 26 year history in 2009 and only missed out to Japan in a deciding doubles rubber in the 2010 semi-finals in Turkey.
Great Britain go into this year’s World Team Cup fielding the same trio of players that won the quad event in Nottingham in 2009. Current world No 2 Peter Norfolk and 20-year-old Andrew Lapthorne, the world ranked No 1 quad doubles player, became Britain’s first Grand Slam wheelchair tennis doubles champions at the Australian Open in Melbourne this year and are also reigning Doubles Masters champions. They are joined in the team by Jamie Burdekin, who partnered Norfolk to the quad doubles bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics. The trio’s triumph at the World Team Cup in 2009 was Great Britain’s third World Team Cup quad title in the event’s 26 year history.
“We are delighted to be able to select a squad that is near full strength for the 2011 World Team Cup as we bid to build on some fine Great Britain performances in recent years,” said Claire Lavers, the Tennis Foundation’s Director of Disability Tennis.
“Our men’s team is the same, so we want to consolidate our fourth place of last year,” said Team Manager Geraint Richards. “Gordon and Marc also produced a fine effort to beat the Dutch reigning Doubles Masters champions during the 2010 World Team Cup and with some other very good countries and players out there we again hope for some big performances.
“Jordanne and Louise did a superb job to help Britain reach the semi-finals in 2010, but again, we face opposition from a number of strong nations, including the perennial champions the Netherlands and to progress to the last four again would be a fine achievement.
“With Peter, Andrew and Jamie all having had experience of winning the World Team Cup quad title in 2009, we have great strength in depth there once again and can hopefully challenge for a fourth quad title since 2001.”
Great Britain have finished fourth in the junior event at the World Team Cup for the last two years and 17-year-old Dermot Bailey comes back into Great Britain’s junior team in 2011 to play alongside Josh Steels and Alfie Hewett. Steels and Hewett put up a fine effort to play all singles and doubles rubbers between them in 2010, when Hewett made his World Team Cup debut during a highly encouraging season, becoming the youngest British men’s player to gain a senior men’s singles world ranking, aged 12.