The World Team Cup by BNP Paribas will take place from May 28 to June 3. The tournament, which is the equivalent of the Davis Cup and Fed Cup for wheelchair tennis players, brings together 25 countries in four different categories (women, men, quads and juniors). Canada will be represented in the quad event after having secured their spot in the main draw last year in Italy.
Last year, the team put together an impressive performance by reaching the Top 6. After having lost a heartbreaker to Great Britain and Japan, Canada managed to pull out the 2-1 victory over South Korea.
In the first match, Gary Luker got the first point for his country with a tight two set victory. The second point seemed lost for Canada as Rob Shaw was trailing 2-6, 3-5. But the Canadian managed to pull off the upset over the no. 6 ranked player, Kyu-Seung Kim, by a score of 2-6, 7-5, 6-0. He has gone on record to say that it was the most emotional match of his young career. “I was having difficulty with all of my shots and I quickly found myself trailing far behind. After some words of encouragement from my coach, I was able to save a match point and make my comeback. After that, I think I played the best set of my career and I am extremely happy to have gotten the victory over a Top 10 player,” he stated after his win.
In doubles, Sarah Hunter and Mika Ishikawa lost in a tight three set match that lasted over two hours. Despite their disappointment, the pair knew they had played well and had kept a positive attitude throughout the match. Canada’s victory over South Korea insured their spot for the 2018 edition of the tournament.
During the match-up to determine the fifth and sixth places, Canada fell 2-1 to the Netherlands and thus finished sixth in the competition.
This year, the quad team will be composed of Gary Luker, who will be participating for a tenth time, Rob Shaw as well as the rookie Mitch McIntyre. The captain Christian Gingras will lead the team and will be supported by Kai Schrameyer and the physiotherapist Mara Chaplin.
A Top 6 finish would guarantee Canada their place in the 2019 event. However, an additional challenge has been added to the tournament this year as it will be played on clay, a surface on which our players are much less familiar.
This obstacle has not diminished McIntyre’s enthusiasm, as he is looking forward to competing for the very first time. “I’m really enjoying the atmosphere here in Apeldoorn. This is my first World Team Cup and it’s been great for me to train with our team. We arrived early to get comfortable playing on clay, which has benefited me greatly. We’ve had two great days of training so far and I am looking forward to getting this competition started next week”. For his part, Gary Luker mentioned that the field is the strongest that he has even seen, but he is confident in his team’s abilities in this tough competition.
Joining Canada in the tournament are Great Britain, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, the Unites States, Australia and South Africa. The stage is set for a high level of competition from May 28 to June 3!
(Photo credits: Mara Chaplin)