Wimbledon champions set for 25th British Open in Nottingham
by Marshall Thomas
Wimbledon champions Jordanne Whiley, Yui Kamiji, Stephane Houdet and Shingo Kunieda are among 25 world top 10 ranked singles players set to play for major honours in Great Britain once again when the 25th British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships takes place at Nottingham Tennis Centre from 15 – 20 July.
The British Open is one of six events to have Super Series status, the highest tier of tournament on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour outside of the Grand Slams.
Birmingham-born Whiley returns to the Midlands fresh from becoming the first British woman to win a Wimbledon wheelchair tennis title after she partnered Japan’s Kamiji to victory in Sunday’s women’s doubles final at The Championships.
Kamiji heads the women’s singles entry for the 25th British Open, the world No. 1 being one of nine world top 10 ranked players, including Britain’s world No. 5 Whiley and world No. 10 Lucy Shuker, who will contest the event.
World No. 2 Aniek van Koot and world No. 4 Jiske Griffioen, head a strong Dutch entry once again, while Germany’s world No. 3 Sabine Ellerbrock is the defending champion after winning her first British Open title in 2013 with a three set victory over van Koot in the final. Whilley and Shuker head the British challenge, while the London 2012 bronze medallists will team up for the women’s doubles in Nottingham.
“On the back of an amazing victory in front of a home crowd at Wimbledon I’m really excited about coming back to the British Open and I hope that people who saw us on TV at Wimbledon will come out and support us in Nottingham and watch some tremendous tennis once again,” said Whiley.
World No. 1 Kunieda and world No. 2 Houdet head a men’s singles entry that also includes nine of the world’s top 10 players, the London 2012 gold and silver medallists having paired up to win the men’s doubles at Wimbledon last weekend.
Former two-time champion Maikel Scheffers of the Netherlands, Belgium’s defending champion Joachim Gerard and British No. 1 and world No. 3 Gordon Reid will be among the leading contenders, with Reid bidding to at least emulate his achievement in Nottingham in 2012, when he reached his first Super Series final before winning his first Super Series title in January this year in Sydney, Australia.
“The last two years for me have been amazing and it started with reaching my first Super Series final at the British Open,” said Reid. “With my first Super Series title now behind me and having several wins over Shingo and Stephane I will be doing my best to produce another big performance on home soil.”
Local Nottinghamshire interest will come from Bingham’s British No. 3 David Phillipson, a semi-finalist at last October’s Nottingham Indoor after beating world No. 7 Michael Jeremiasz of France. Phillipson is playing this week’s Swiss Open in Geneva ahead of launching his latest British Open challenge.
Heading up the entry for the quad division will be world No.1 David Wagner from the USA and world No.2 Lucas Sithole from South Africa. But Britain’s world No. 3 Andy Lapthorne and world No. 5 Jamie Burdekin will also be hoping for some more big performances, with both Brits having already beaten Wagner this season. Sithole made history in Nottingham last July, becoming the first African player to win a Super Series singles title before going on to become the first African to win a Grand Slam wheelchair tennis title at last September’s US Open.
Organised by the Tennis Foundation, the British Open is a crucial tournament for the world’s leading men’s, women’s and quad players aiming to gain enough ranking points to qualify for the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, the year-end singles championship, which takes places at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, on 26 – 30 November.