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GB name squad for 2022 World Team Cup

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 25: Lucy Shuker of Great Britain plays a backhand in her Women’s Wheelchair Singles Semifinals match against Diede De Groot of the Netherlands during day nine of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 25, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

FOURTEEN of the UK’s best wheelchair tennis players are all set for next week’s 2022 BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Vilamoura, Portugal.

The squad will represent Great Britain across all four events contested at the International Tennis Federation’s flagship wheelchair tennis event, which is the wheelchair equivalent of the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup.

The team line-up as follows:

Men’s Event – Captained by Martyn Whait

Alfie Hewett (Cantley, Norfolk)

Dermot Bailey (Kettering, Northamptonshire)

Ben Bartram (Norwich Norfolk)

Women’s Event – Captained by Rob Cross

Lucy Shuker (Three Legged Cross, Dorset)

Cornelia Oosthuizen (Fulham, London)

Abbie Breakwell (Long Eaton, Derbyshire)

Ruby Bishop (Norwich, Norfolk)

Quad Event – Captained by Alex Cockram

Richard Green (Coggeshall, Essex)

James Shaw (Ruddington, Nottinghamshire)

Greg Slade (Dorking, Surrey)

Junior Event – Captained by Marc McCarroll

Dahnon Ward (Kegworth, Derbyshire)

Andrew Penney (Alresford, Hampshire)

Joshua Johns (Ilkeston, Derbyshire)

Ruben Harris (Hersden, Kent)

Team Leader: Cain Berry

GREAT BRITAIN has a long history of success in the World Team Cup, winning the men’s competition for the first time in 2015 before adding the title again in 2019, which brought the latest in a sequence of six successive medals – two gold, two silver and two bronze.

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 World Team Cup, while a combination of injury and illness resulted in Great Britain being forced to withdraw from the men’s competition in 2021.

However, Hewett and Bailey were joined by junior players Bartram and Ward in a team that won their men’s qualification event in Turkey last month. Sixteen-year-old Bartram, currently the British men’s No.3, maintains his place in the senior squad as Gordon Reid continues to work towards returning to competition ahead of the French Open.

Hewett, who regained the world No.1 men’s singles ranking last month and who has three World Team Cup titles to his name as a junior and senior player, said:

“Missing out on last year’s World Team Cup was very unfortunate, but now we’re back where we belong and I’m confident that we can launch a strong challenge against some higher-ranked teams after combining well to win last month’s qualification event. Every time you put on the GB top it’s a special feeling but this year it will have that extra something after not being able to play last year.”

Great Britain enjoyed their most successful World Team Cup to date in 2019, when all four teams earned top four placings and Great Britain’s men’s team won gold, the women’s team won bronze and the junior team won silver.

Alongside established senior players such a Hewett, Bailey and Shuker, several Brits are making their World Team Cup debuts this year.

Ruby Bishop will make her Great Britain senior debut in the women’s team after being a member of the junior teams that won silver medals in 2019 and 2021. Bishop, who will join 19-year-old Abbie Breakwell in lining up alongside three-time Paralympic doubles medallist Shuker and former Invictus Games medallist Cornelia Oosthuizen, said:

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to play in the senior Women’s event at just 18 years old. I could still have been playing juniors and I was quite surprised when I got the call to say I was being picked for the women’s event. But I’m definitely very excited to gain that experience of playing alongside Lucy and Cornelia.”

Meanwhile, with British No.1 Andy Lapthorne unavailable for this year’s squad, Richard Green will make his debut for the Great Britain quad team after reaching a career-best singles world ranking at No.14 in February. Former National champion Green, who reached back-to-back quarter-finals in Bolton in February at the LTA’s first international wheelchair tournaments of the year, said:

“I’m so honoured to be selected for the World Team Cup. It will be a great experience and I’m looking forward to playing the game I love for my country for the first time.“

Green is joined in the quad team by James Shaw, a member of Great Britain’s gold-medal winning quad team in 2017 when the now 26-year-old made his World Team Cup debut, and Greg Slade, who made his Great Britain debut last year.

Playing for Great Britain in Vilamoura would earn Bishop and Green a place on the LTA Colours Holders Programme, something that Bartram and Ward achieved last month at the World Team Cup Qualification event as Bartram became Colour Holder Number 315 and Ward became Colour Holder Number 316.

Ward leads Great Britain’s junior team in Portugal after he and Bartram were both members of the silver medal-winning junior team in both 2019 and 2021. Andrew Penney makes his Great Britain debut this year as the junior team bid for another medal. In world No.3 Ward and world No.5 Penney Great Britain has players who both contested the Junior Masters boys’ doubles final in Tarbes, France in January, where Ward and Bartram were the victors.

Sixteen-year-old Joshua Johns, who made his World Team Cup debut in last year’s silver medal-winning junior team, will be able to draw on that experience this year, while 14-year-old Ruben Harris, one of the youngest players on the LTA’s Wheelchair Tennis Performance Pathway, also makes his World Team Cup debut this year.

Speaking ahead of the event, the LTA’s Performance Support Lead and World Team Cup Team Lead Cain Berry, said:

“We’re pleased to announce a strong squad for this year’s World Team Cup and are again delighted to name an exciting mixture of youth and experience from the pool of talented athletes on our performance pathway.

As a nation we have a strong track record in the World Team Cup and look forward to building on that, whilst also utilising this year’s event to accelerate player development for the future.”

For daily news throughout the event, head to lta.org.uk or keep up to date with all the action on Twitter @the_LTA or @WChairTennisGB.

 

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