Photo: Kellcie Temple

Last week, 23-year-old Thomas Venos defeated American Jason Keatseangsilp 6-4, 7-6(7) in the Alabama Open final to clinch his first ITF tournament crown of the season. Venos, the current world No. 59 in wheelchair tennis, is on a remarkable streak, winning six of his last seven matches on the pro circuit. With the win in Alabama, Venos now has three ITF titles to his name.

Despite earning a first-round bye as the tournament’s No. 3 seed, Venos’s week was far from easy as he faced the top two seeds – Americans Conner Stroud (No. 1) and Keatseangsilp (No. 2) – en route to capturing the Alabama Open title. First up was Stroud in the semi-finals, where Venos claimed his first victory over the American in three hard-fought sets 6-3, 0-6, 6-2. Then in the championship match, Venos rode the wave of momentum he got from his gutsy win over Stroud and took down Keatseangsilp in straight sets. He’s now won four consecutive matches against Keatseangsilp – the current world No. 42.

“Another tough match today, it wasn’t pretty at times,” Venos said after the win. “I had some issues with my timing, but I was able to overcome that and when it mattered most, I trusted my shots and it came through. Good week all around with two big wins back-to-back with one being over someone I haven’t beaten in my seven years of playing. I’m very happy with the result and I look forward to my next tournament.”

Venos (Anmore, British Columbia) will be competing at the Birmingham Nationals next month, where he will try to win his third consecutive title at the event.

Rob Shaw reaches finals at the Sardinia Open

Venos isn’t the only Canadian wheelchair tennis player leaving his mark on the international scene, as North Bay’s Rob Shaw continues to solidify himself as one of the top quad players in the world. Shaw, who currently holds the No. 7 spot in the quad singles rankings, had a runner-up finish last week at the Sardinia Open in Italy – an ITF 1 Series tournament. He dropped his final match to world No. 1 Niels Vink 6-1, 6-1.

“Obviously, that’s not the way I was hoping my tournament would end, but the reality is that my opponent is just a far better tennis player than I am currently,” Shaw said. “I certainly did not play my best, but a large part of that was because of the quality of ball my opponent was hitting. Time to go back home and get in a solid training block before my last tournament of the year.”