Japan’s Shingo Kunieda, the Netherlands’ Aniek van Koot and the USA’s David Wagner will attempt to retain their men’s, women’s and quad singles titles, respectively, at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, which begin Wednesday (2 December).
The International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) year-end wheelchair singles Championship takes place at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, Great Britain, and runs until Sunday (6 December).
The world’s top-eight ranked men and women’s singles players head a field of 20, with world No. 1 Kunieda bidding to become the first player to win the men’s title four years in a row.
Kunieda is one of three former champions in the men’s field, along with France’s world No. 2 Stephane Houdet and current world No. 7 Maikel Scheffers of the Netherlands.
The Japanese top seed will also aim to extend his current unbeaten sequence of 11 singles matches on the Olympic Park after he won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games before winning his third NEC Masters title in 2014.
Kunieda goes into this year’s tournament unbeaten in 76 singles matches, his last loss coming against Britain’s current world No. 5 Gordon Reid in Sydney, Australia, in January 2014.
Van Koot, currently world ranked No. 2, won her first NEC Masters women’s title in 2014 after coming from a set down to win both her semi-final against Brit Jordanne Whiley and the final against fellow Dutchwoman Jiske Griffioen.
World No. 1 Griffioen and Whiley have shared this year’s three Grand Slam singles titles between them.
Griffioen, the 2012 NEC Masters champion, won her first two singles majors at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, with Whiley also winning the first Grand Slam singles title of her career at the US Open in September to earn a world top four ranking for the first time.
Griffioen and Van Koot are also among three former champions in the women’s singles, with Japan’s Yui Kamiji having become the first non-Dutch player to win the women’s title in 2013.
In 2014, Wagner became the second most successful player in NEC Masters history as his seventh quad singles crown at the year-end Championship saw him go second, only to Dutch legend Esther Vergeer and the 14 NEC Masters women’s titles she accumulated between 1998 and 2011.
The USA’s world No. 2 bids to make it four Masters titles in row when he takes on South Africa’s No. 3 Lucas Sithole, Britain’s world No. 4 Andy Lapthorne and Israel’s Itay Erenlib.
The recent withdrawal of world No. 1 Dylan Alcott means that Erenlib makes his NEC Masters debut at the end of a season that has seen him improve from world No. 28 to world No. 5 in the quad singles rankings after winning his first two ITF 1 Series titles.
For more information on the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, visit the event website.
A livestream is also available here.