History of…

The British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships

AN INTRO TO WHEELCHAIR TENNIS

If you’ve not seen wheelchair tennis before, we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to the sport so you can impress your friends with expert knowledge…

When did the sport begin?
Wheelchair tennis originated in 1976 in the USA, where it was developed and promoted by American players Brad Parks and Jeff Minnenbraker. Since then, it has grown to be played around the world with the ITF’s UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour now featuring over 160 tournaments in more than 40 countries!

It is now an established Paralympic sport too, with 🇬🇧 Gordon Reid having won the Men’s Singles gold medals for Great Britain at Rio 2016, and Peter Norfolk having claimed gold medals in the Quad Singles at both Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

Gordon Reid wins gold at Rio 2016 Paralympics

This summer the wheelchair tennis grass court season will be taken to new levels with a full series of international ranking tournaments staged as part of the LTA’s major events at the cinch Championships at The Queen’s Club (men), Rothesay International↗ Eastbourne Intnernational↗ (women) and Rothesay Classic Birmingham↗ (quads).

Are the rules the same?
Almost, but not quite! The one major difference is that a wheelchair tennis player is allowed up to two bounces of the ball before returning it. However, it is only the first bounce that is required to be in the court of play.

What equipment do players use?
Players use specially designed tennis wheelchairs, with two larger cambered wheels for stability and manoeuvrability, and two small castor wheels at the front and one ‘anti-tip’ castor wheel to the rear.

How many different competitions are there?
There are three different competitions in wheelchair tennis, with players competing in one of the men’s, women’s or quad events.

The men’s and women’s division athletes have disabilities in their lower limbs only and are classified by gender. Quad division athletes have upper and lower limb disabilities and are classified based on disability, not gender.

An ITF Nottingham Futures tournament will also be held as part of the British Open, featuring players hoping to kick start their international career by earning world ranking points, as well as a junior tournament.

How can I watch it?
If you are here at the British Open for only one or two days to watch the action in person, you can still 📺 Watch the rest of the tournament streamed on YouTube.

How can I give it a go?
The LTA’s Open Court disability tennis programme supports grassroots wheelchair tennis sessions across the country, as well as a series of regional and national competitions. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have your own wheelchair tennis chair – many LTA registered tennis venues have their own stock of tennis wheelchairs that new players can use to give the sport a try.

Roll of Honour

YearMen’sWomen’sQuad
2022🇪🇸 Martin de la Puente🇳🇱 Aniek van Koot🇬🇧 Andy Lapthorne
2021🇬🇧 Alfie Hewett🇳🇱 Diede de GrootSam Schroder (NED)
2020Not heldNot heldNot held
2019Shingo Kunieda (JPN)🇳🇱 Diede de GrootNiels Vink (NED)
2018Shingo Kunieda (JPN)🇳🇱 Diede de Groot🇺🇸 David Wagner
2017Gustavo Fernandez (ARG)Yui Kamiji (JPN)🇺🇸 David Wagner
2016Stephane Houdet (FRA)Jordanne Whiley (GBR)Dylan Alcott (AUS)
2015Stephane Houdet (FRA)Jordanne Whiley (GBR)Lucas Sithole (RSA)
2014Shingo Kunieda (JPN)Yui Kamiji (JPN)Dylan Alcott (AUS)
2013Joachim Gerard (BEL)Sabine Ellerbrock (GER)Lucas Sithole (RSA)
2012Shingo Kunieda (JPN)Esther Vergeer (NED)Noam Gershony (ISR)
2011Maikel Scheffers (NED)Esther Vergeer (NED)Peter Norfolk (GBR)
2010Maikel Scheffers (NED)Esther Vergeer (NED)Johan Andersson (SWE)
2009Shingo Kunieda (JPN)Esther Vergeer (NED)David Wagner (USA)
2008Shingo Kunieda (JPN)Esther Vergeer (NED)Peter Norfolk (GBR)
2007Shingo Kunieda (JPN)Esther Vergeer (NED)David Wagner (USA)
2006Robin Ammerlaan (NED)Esther Vergeer (NED)Peter Norfolk (GBR)
2005David Hall (AUS)Esther Vergeer (NED)Peter Norfolk (GBR)
2004David Hall (AUS)Esther Vergeer (NED)Bas van Erp (NED)
2003Robin Ammerlaan (NED)Esther Vergeer (NED)Peter Norfolk (GBR)
2002David Hall (AUS)Esther Vergeer (NED)Nobuhiro Tachibana (JPN)
2001David Hall (AUS)Esther Vergeer (NED)Shraga Weinberg (ISR)
2000Ricky Molier (NED)Sonja Peters (NED)Rick Draney (USA)
1999David Hall (AUS)Daniela Di Toro (AUS)Rick Draney (USA)
1998David Hall (AUS)Daniela Di Toro (AUS)Rick Draney (USA)
1997Ricky Molier (NED)Chantal Vandierendonck (NED)Rick Draney (USA)
1996Laurent Giammartini (FRA)Monique Kalkman (NED)N/A
1995David Hall (AUS)Monique Kalkman (NED)N/A
1994Laurent Giammartini (FRA)Daniela Di Toro (AUS)N/A
1993Kai Schrameyer (GER)Monique Van Den Bosch (NED)N/A
1992Chip Turner (USA)Monique Van Den Bosch (NED)N/A
1991Chip Turner (USA)Monique Van Den Bosch (NED)N/A
1990Thierry Caillier (FRA)Janet McMorran (GBR)N/A
To Top