Wheelchair tennis is a technical and tactical sport, very similar to its Olympic counterpart. It is also very popular: wheelchair tennis is played by athletes in more than 100 countries.
Great Britain have some of the top wheelchair tennis players in the world and came top of the 2015 Tennis Europe wheelchair tennis standings jointly with the Netherlands.
Jordanne Whiley made history in 2014 when she became the first ever British player to win the calendar Grand Slam in the doubles events with Japanese partner Yui Kamiji. Whiley has since gone on to win the US Open singles title and is a strong contender for both singles and doubles medals at Rio 2016.
Gordon Reid has also cemented his place at the top of the men’s game and took his maiden Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open earlier this year. He and teenager Alfie Hewett look set for a bright future winning their first Super Series title at the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships in 2015.
Andy Lapthorne, London 2012 silver medallist in the quad doubles, has also continued his run of success since the home Games and took the singles trophy at the US Open in 2014 along with a raft of doubles titles.
With 2016 being the 40th anniversary of the invention of the game by American Brad Parks, it’s set to be a big year with the inclusion of a singles event at The Championships, Wimbledon, for the very first time.
Peter Norfolk, who adopted the nickname ‘The Quadfather’ in the lead up to Beijing, is the most decorated British wheelchair tennis player and was selected as ParalympicsGB's flagbearer at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.
Norfolk and Lapthorne secured the first wheelchair tennis medal of London 2012 when they won silver. The pair faced American duo and reigning Paralympic Champions Nicholas Taylor and David Wagner in the gold medal match losing out 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
British medal hopes continued in London when women's pair Lucy Shuker and Jordanne Whiley faced Thailand's Ratana Techamaneewat and Sakhorn Khanthasit for bronze.
The British pair lost the first set in a tie break but they went on to survive match point in the second set before levelling the scores at one set each. Going on to win the final set to take the match, the British duo secured a first ever Paralympic medal for British
- First year at a Paralympic Games:
- Seoul 1988 (demonstration sport)
- Barcelona 1992 (men's and women's singles and doubles)
- Athens 2004 (quad events added)
- Brief history:
- The sport has grown steadily since 1992, when the ITF’sNEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour started with just 11 international tournaments. There are currently over 150 tournaments taking place in over 40 countries across the world and wheelchair tennis is now a part of all four Grand Slams.
- Eligible impairment groups:
- The quad singles and doubles events are open to any athletes of either sex whose impairment affects three or more limbs, while the men's and women's singles and doubles events are open to other classifications/impairment groups.
- London medal table:
- 1 - Netherlands (two gold, two silver, two bronze)
- 2 - USA (one gold, one silver, one bronze)
- 3 - Israel (one gold, zero silver, one bronze)
- 7 - Great Britain (zero gold, one silver, one bronze)
- GB medals in London:
- Peter Norfolk and Andy Lapthorne, silver, quad doubles
- Lucy Shuker and Jordanne Whiley, bronze, women's doubles
- Did you know:
- Four-time Paralympian Jayant Mistry was British no. 1 for 15 years before retiring from international competition in 2007
- Great Britain won 78 titles on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour in 2015, just four behind the top performing nation, Japan.
- London 2012 venue:
- Eton Manor
- Rio 2016 venue:
- Rio Olympic Park, Barra Zone
Wheelchair tennis at the Paralympic Games follows International Tennis Federation Rules of tennis, with a few important differences.
The most significant difference is the ‘two-bounce rule’, which means a player can allow the ball to bounce twice and must return it before a third bounce. The second bounce can be inside or outside the court boundaries.
At the serve, the server must be in a stationary position before serving the ball, but is allowed one push of the wheelchair before striking the ball.
Matches are the best of three sets, with a tie-break settling each set as required.
The wheelchair tennis competition consists of six medal events: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, quad singles and quad doubles.
Each nation may enter a maximum of four men into men’s singles, four women into women’s singles and a maximum of three quad players in the quad singles. A maximum of four men and four women may compete as teams in men’s and women’s doubles and a maximum of two players may compete as a team in the quad doubles.
As with all Paralympic sports, classification in wheelchair tennis is based on the principle that an athlete has a medically diagnosed, permanent impairment. For wheelchair tennis, this impairment must be a mobility-related physical impairment.
Athletes do not necessarily compete against athletes who have the same impairment (e.g. an athlete who is an amputee against another athlete who is an amputee). Instead, athletes whose impairment affects up to two limbs compete in the men’s and women’s ‘open’ competitions, and athletes whose impairment affects three or more limbs compete in the quad division (which is a mixed sex division).