Wheelchair Tennis Preview

In London, Dutch sensation Esther Vergeer will try to keep her unbeaten streak of 440 matches alive as she goes for her four consecutive Paralympic singles gold. 29 Aug 2012

The London 2012 wheelchair tennis event will take place at Eton Manor, the first-ever Paralympic-only venue.

Dates: 1-8 September

Venue: Eton Manor

Number of Athletes: 112

Medal Events: 6

Ones to Watch: Esther Vergeer (the Netherlands), Aniek van Koot (the Netherlands)

The London 2012 wheelchair tennis event will take place at Eton Manor, the first-ever Paralympic-only venue.

Without a doubt, the Netherlands’ Esther Vergeer will received constant worldwide attention as she tries to keep her unbeaten streak of 440 singles matches alive. The world’s No. 1 player and perhaps best to have ever played the game has not dropped a match since 2003 and is out for her fourth consecutive Paralympic singles gold on 7 September.

“I think it would be good if I lost,” Vergeer said. “But I’m not going to lose on purpose. The other girls will have to work harder and find a way to beat me.”

Vergeer’s biggest challenger will be her teammate, world number two Aniek van Koot, who was able to steal a set from Vergeer earlier this year and has been the runner-up in most major tournaments over the last year. “Every girl in the top eight is a big opponent because we’re all tight with each other. It’s always tight scores, but obviously, Esther Vergeer is the one to beat,” van Koot said.

But anything can happen on the Paralympic stage, so do not count out Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock, Great Britain’s Lucy Shuker or Vergeer’s other teammates Jiske Griffioen and Marjolein Buis

The men’s singles field is wide open, with France’s Stephane Houdet, Japan’s Shingo Kunieda and the Netherlands’ Maikel Scheffers entering as the top three in the world, respectively.

Fresh off a win at the British Open, Kuneida hopes to defend his Paralympic gold from Beijing on 8 September, but Houdet and Scheffers, along with Argentina’s up-and-coming Gustavo Fernandez and the host nation’s Gordon Reid have the potential pull some upsets in London.

In doubles, the Netherlands’ delegation of Vergeer, van Koot, Griffioen and Buis is bound to produce a gold-medal duo, while France’s Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz will go in as the top dogs on the men’s side.

The quads competition will have three strong Brits in Peter Norfolk, Andy Lapthorne and Jamie Burdekin, though USA’s David Wagner enters as the one to beat and Israel’s Noam Gershony’s play of late makes it anyone’s game. “Peter has more experience and has already done it twice before, and he will have home crowd. I hope I am not drawn against him,” Gershony said. “Then, David Wagner is always hard to beat.”

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