Thirteen men’s teams and six women’s teams from 17 countries are set to contest this week’s wheelchair tennis World Team Cup European Qualification in Vilamoura, Portugal from 2-6 April.
Poland and Spain triumphed in the 2017 and 2018 men’s finals, while Switzerland and Great Britain claimed the women’s finals in the last two years.
The 13 men’s teams will start the five days of play drawn in four round-robin pools. The winners of each poll will go forward to the semi-finals.
The six women’s teams will start their competition in two round-robin pools of three nations each. After the completion of the round-robin phase, the top two nations in each pool will progress to the semi-finals.
Next Saturday’s scheduled finals will see one men’s team and one women’s team emerge victorious, therefore earning their qualification for the 2019 World Team Cup Finals in Israel on 13-18 May.
Austria men and Russia women top seedings
After finishing ninth in the World Team Cup Finals and therefore just missing direct qualification for this year’s main event, Austria will be among the leading contenders once again.
Austria’s Nico Langmann and Martin Legner have proved themselves to be in good form after both reaching Sunday’s Vilamoura Open men’s singles final. The latter is the most experienced World Team Cup representative across all teams.
Second seed Greece has a fine record in the European Qualification, having won the regional event three times since 2013. The last 12 months have been particularly successful for Greek No. 1 Stefanos Diamantis, who arrives in Vilamoura as the highest ranked player at No. 18.
Croatia was a semi-finalist alongside Greece in 2018, while Germany, Italy, Hungary and Russia are other teams likely to be contending for a place in the last four this time.
Russia’s last victory in the women’s event at the European Qualification came in 2016 in Antalya, Turkey, when Liudmila Bubnova and Viktorria Lvova beat Italy in the final for the second time in three years.
Another final against Italy is a distinct possibility this year as Russia attempts to go one better than in the 2018. Bubnova and Lvova were part of a Russian team that lost a dramatic women’s final against Great Britain.
World No. 5 Giulia Capocci leads the Italian team this year, three years on from making her European Qualification debut. On that occasion Capocci lost out to then junior world No. 1 Lvova in their singles rubber in the final.
However, fast forward to 2019 and Capocci has firmly established herself inside the Top 10 and has made her NEC Masters and Grand Slam debut in recent months.
Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark and Turkey are the other women’s teams who will be also be competing for places in the semi-finals.