Rio 2016 Paralympic champions Jiske Griffioen, Gordon Reid and Dylan Alcott will look to close a spectacular season, as they lead the women’s, men’s and quad rankings for the 2016 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced the entries for its season-ending championship. It features the world's top singles players on the UNQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour and will be held 30 November - 4 December. For the third successive year the prestigious tournament will be staged at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, Great Britain. It was the same venue used during the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The top eight men's singles and women's singles players, and the top six quad singles players at the ranking cut-off date of 10 October qualified for the NEC Masters.
Great Britain’s Reid captured his first Paralympic medal and is tied in the world rankings with France’s Stephane Houdet. After winning his first NEC Masters title in 2015, Belgium’s Joachim Gerard is one of five past champions in the men’s field, alongside Sweden’s No. 6 Stefan Olsson, Japan’s No. 7 Shingo Kunieda and the Netherlands’ No. 8 Maikel Scheffers.
“I know you are only as good as your last match and that the competition will be really intense at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters,” Reid said. “I’m just going to knuckle down and work hard to give myself every opportunity to win this title. That would be a dream finale to my year.”
Kunieda, runner-up last year to Gerard after three successive NEC Masters titles between 2012 and 2014, earned his place back inside the world's top eight after his performance at last week's US Open USTA Championships Super Series.
The world’s current top three in the women’s singles rankings are all previous champions.
Dutch No. 1 and Rio Paralympic gold medallist Griffioen beat 2014 champion Aniek van Koot in last year's final for her second NEC Masters title in four years.
Japan’s No. 3 Yui Kamiji won the 2013 title to become the first non-Dutch winner of the women's singles at the NEC Masters.
Great Britain’s No. 5 Jordanne Whiley will be joined in the women’s draw by her Rio 2016 bronze medal-winning doubles partner Lucy Shuker who earned the eighth and final qualification sport by winning back-to-back US Open Championship titles.
“I went out to the USA so close after the Paralympics in order to qualify for the singles Masters after a tough year which focused primarily on doubles ahead Rio,” Shuker said. “So I’m delighted to have regained the world No. 8 spot and look forward to competing again in London.”
This year the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters will feature the top six quad singles players for the first time, having previously been contested by the top four players.
Australia’s Rio 2016 quad champion Dylan Alcott leads the rankings in his division. The reigning Australian Open champion looks to conclude a great season. But he will have to face the USA’s No. 2 David Wagner, who is the only one of the six players currently at the top of the quad singles rankings to have previously won the NEC Masters title.
South Africa’s No. 3 Lucas Sithole and Great Britain’s No. 4 Andy Lapthorne have also finished runner-up to eight-time champion Wagner in the last four years.
The complete entries for the 2016 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters can be found on the ITF’s website.