Junior wheelchair tennis players set for historic US Open title bid

First junior wheelchair tournament to take place at a Grand Slam ready to start at 2022 US Open 06 Sep 2022
A female wheelchair athlete plays a forehand on a blue court.
Great Britain's Ruby Bishop is one of the top seeds at the first ever Grand Slam junior wheelchair tournament.
ⒸTom Dulat/Getty Images for LTA

History will be made in New York this week when 16 players aged between 14 and 18 line up for the first ever junior wheelchair tournament to take place at a Grand Slam.

The inaugural US Open Junior Wheelchair Tennis Championships will see players from 11 countries contest just the second ITF Junior Series Grade A tournament on the 2022 UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour as world No.2-ranked Ben Bartram of Great Britain and USA's Maylee Phelps head the boys’ and girls’ singles fields for the three-day event.

Not only do Bartram and Phelps top the seedings for this week’s event, but Britain and USA are the only two nations with more than one competitor across the boys’ and girls’ draws, Britain leading the way with six players and host nation USA responsible for three of the title challengers.

Bartram's debut

With world No.1 ranked junior Tokito Oda set to play his third successive senior Grand Slam event when he makes his US Open debut, Bartram comes into his first ever tournament in USA in a rich vein of form after winning his last six senior tournaments – five ITF Futures events and one ITF 3 Series.

The reigning Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters champion, Bartram will hope to maintain his form to add his second major junior title of 2022. His strongest challenger could well be his compatriot and Junior Masters runner-up and doubles partner Dahnon Ward, who took Bartram to three sets in their Junior Masters title decider in Tarbes in January and again in their most recent meeting in the final of last month’s Bucharest Open. However, it is fellow Brit Andrew Penney who is set to start this week’s event as second seed.

Ben Bartram is the top seeded player in the boys' singles draw. @Ashley Allen/Getty Images for LTA

One of two 14-year-olds in the boys’ singles and doubles alongside USA wild card Charlie Cooper, Austria’s Maximilian Taucher emulated Bartram by making a winning 2022 season debut in junior competition after claiming the spoils in the first Grade A tournament of the year, the Open des Hauts-de-France in Marcq-en-Baroeul, France. Taucher has since added two junior titles in the Netherlands.  

New Phelps on the block

The Open des Hauts-de-France in Marcq-en-Baroeul also gave Maylee Phelps a winning start to her 2022 season, which included the girls’ title at the Cruyff Foundation ITF Junior Wheelchair Tennis Camp in the USA in July, the junior title at the Vancouver International and, most recently, the women’s singles title at last month’s Pacific Northwest Sectional Championships.  

Phelps and girls’ singles world No.3 Ruby Bishop top the seedings in New York this week after two-time Junior Masters champion Lizzy de Greef was forced to withdraw due to a back injury.

The only meeting that Phelps and Bishop have had to date resulted in a fascinating match-up at July’s Amjoy Cup in the Netherlands, where they met in the final of the girls’ singles tournament. Bishop dramatically turned her fortunes around after facing what looked like a straight sets loss to Phelps, snatching the second set tie-break and then racing through the final set 6-0.

Brazil's challenge

While not seeded and currently ranked at No.4 in the Cruyff Foundation Junior Wheelchair Tennis Rankings behind Phelps and Bishop, Brazil’s Jade Lanai arrives in New York as a strong contender for the inaugural US Open title after beating both Phelps and Bishop in her first career match against either player earlier this season.

Lanai went on to finish runner-up to De Greef at January’s Junior Masters after beating Bishop in three sets in their round-robin group match. The 17-year-old also beat Phelps in straight sets in Brazil’s group match against USA in the junior event at May’s BNP Paribas World Team Cup.

The US Open Junior Wheelchair Tennis Championships takes place from 8-10 September.