Tennis Canada announced on Thursday the list of players competing in the Birmingham Nationals, the final wheelchair tournament of the year in Canada. The country’s top players will gather in Calgary this week to compete for the chance at a National title. The tournament will take place from November 22 to 25 at the OSTEN & VICTOR Alberta Tennis Centre.
Among the competitors is two-time Paralympian Philippe Bédard (Bromont, QC) who is coming into Calgary as the defending champion. Top seed at this year’s tournament, he is always one to watch at the Birmingham Nationals. He has been crowned champion of the men’s singles event for the last five years, which is the second best winning streak in the history of the event. He will be joined by 18 other top Canadian wheelchair players, including Thomas Venos (Anmore, BC) and Marko Golic (Oakville, ON), the tournament’s third and fifth seeds. Jean-Paul Mélo (QC) is slated to be the second seed in the men’s singles draw.
On the women’s side, a new champion will be crowned this year, as Tara Llanes (Vancouver, BC) will not be back to defend her title. Maude Jacques (Sherbrooke, QC) will lead the Canadian contingent as the tournament favourite. In the quad division, Robert Shaw (North Bay, ON) will hoping to take home the title for a fourth consecutive year. He defeated two-time champion Gary Luker (Stoney Creek, ON) in last year’s final. Shaw is coming off a strong 2018 season, which saw him continue his ascent in the world rankings. He finished the year at a career high no. 10, winning two ITF events and reaching the final of the Birmingham Classic, the highest level ITF wheelchair event in Canada, along the way.
The Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships is one of the biggest and most important wheelchair tennis events played in Canada each year and will feature competition in three divisions: men’s, women’s, and quad. Play will be hosted at the OSTEN & VICTOR Alberta Tennis Centre, which opened in the spring of 2016, for a second consecutive year.
The tournament will kick-off on Thursday with the opening ceremonies at 9:30 a.m., followed by a day full of match action. Admission is free throughout the four-day event at the OSTEN & VICTOR Alberta Tennis Centre, with fans and local residents encouraged to come check out the high quality wheelchair tennis action in person.