Wheelchair tennis: Day one preview

The action gets underway at the Tennis Centre at the Olympic Park on Friday with a host of eagerly-anticipated matches. 09 Sep 2016
The Olympic Tennis Centre hosted the first competition in Barra Olympic Park.

The Olympic Tennis Centre hosted the first competition in Barra Olympic Park in December 2015.

ⒸRio City Government/Ricardo Sette Camara

One hundred athletes will battle it out across six divisions in the seventh Paralympic wheelchair tennis competition, which begins on Friday (9 September).

The action gets underway at the Olympic Tennis Centre, where competitors in the men’s singles, the women’s doubles and the quad’s singles all begin their first round action.

Quads Singles

Australian Dylan Alcott and American David Wagner will hotly contest the quads division. Both are in action on day one.

Alcott is making his wheelchair tennis Paralympic debut, but already has a gold medal to his name. He was part of the Australian wheelchair basketball team in Beijing, before he took silver in London in 2012.

Alcott switched codes and dominated the Grand Slams in 2015 as he beat Wagner in straight sets at the Australian Open before doing the same in 2016, with the Aussie beating the American on home soil as he claimed the US Open title.

A gold medal is next on Alcott’s list, but Wagner will be hoping to turn his fortunes in the quad doubles into success in the singles.

Alongside Nick Taylor, Wagner has won four golds but has never managed such a feat in the singles. He begins his Rio 2016 Games against Israel’s Itay Erenlib fourth on Court Two, while Alcott faces fellow Israelite Shraga Weinberg earlier on Court Two at approximately 1.30pm.

Third and fourth seeds Lucas Sithole and Andy Lapthorne, who will be looking to mix it with Alcott and Wagner, are also in action on Friday

Sithole, the 2013 quad singles US Open champion, is involved in the first game on Court Eight when he faces Japan’s Shota Kawano.

Lapthorne, the 2014 quad singles Champion from Flushing Meadows, is third on Court Nine against Italy’s Alberto Corradi.

Men’s Singles

Japanese star Shingo Kunieda will look to defend his Paralympic title. He made history in London with back-to-back gold medals but, after an injury-hit 2016, the sixth seed will be fighting to retain his crown.

Frenchman and world No. 1 Stephane Houdet will be looking to turn his silver into gold after losing to Kunieda in London.

The top 12 seeded men have all received byes for round one but one notable Paralympic multi-medallist begins his campaign on Friday.

Michael Jeremiasz, who won men’s doubles gold with Houdet in 2008, a bronze in the single division at Athens, plus two other doubles medals, is ranked 16th and starts on Court Two against Greece’s Stefanos Diamantis at midday.

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s Alfie Hewitt makes his Paralympic debut after winning the Korean Open and then clinching Wimbledon doubles success with Gordon Reid. The 18-year-old faces Abu Samah Borhan from Malaysia on Court Three at around 12.30pm.

Women’s Doubles

Following the retirement of Esther Vegeer, who this week received the Brad Parks award for her achievements and work within the sport, the Dutch team has a new-look doubles Paralympic team with Marjolein Buis joined by 19-year-old Diede de Groot.

They will fly the flag alongside the formidable number one partnership of Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot.

The two Dutch pairings both have round one byes along with Great Britain duo Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker, who claimed the bronze medal at Eton Manor in 2012.

There are only two women’s doubles games on Friday as Shelby Baron and Emmy Kaiser of USA take on French duo Charlotte Famin and Emmanualle Morch at approximately 5.30pm on Court Three.

The other women’s doubles match also features an American duo, as Dana Mathewson and Kaitlyn Verfuerth face Brazilian pair Rejane Candida and Natalia Mayara on Centre Court.