The wheelchair tennis Canadians competing at the World Team Cup qualifying in Lima post for a photo.

Tennis may be a primarily individual sport, but some team tennis is always a nice treat. The qualifying rounds for the wheelchair World Team Cup took place last week and the Canadians were right in the thick of it. 

Regional qualifications were taking place with spots in the World Group on the line in May in Antalya, Turkey. Despite some strong performances however, the Canadian teams were unable to punch their tickets. 

The Americas qualification took place in Lima, Peru with Canada’s men’s and women’s teams looking to advance to the World Goup. 

Seven teams were in the men’s competition, which meant a round robin followed by a knockout stage.  

Led by Thomas Venos and Shawn Courchesne, the Canadians went 2-1 in pool play, beating the host Peruvians and Guatemala, but falling to Colombia. Venos went 3-0 in singles in the group stage while winning two out of three in doubles with Courchesne, who went 1-2 in his singles matches. 

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Their run ended in the semis, where the Canadians lost to the eventual winners Chile 2-0, with both singles matches ending in straight-set losses. Canada ended up finishing fourth, losing to Ecuador 2-1 in a tie that was decided by the doubles. 

There were only five teams in the women’s event, so there was just one big round robin to decide who would move on to the World Group.  

The Canadian women acquitted themselves well, going 2-2 overall in the group by defeating Ecuador and Peru, but losing to Colombia and Chile. 

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Anne-Marie Dolinar went 3-1 in her singles matches, while Natalia Lanucha put up a 2-2 record. In their three doubles matches, the Canadian squad rolled out three different pairs. Lanucha and Frederique Berube Perron, who was making her debut for Canada at the World Team Cup, were the only ones to win a completed match, scoring a victory to complete the sweep of Peru.  

Dolinar and Lanucha lost their one completed match against Chile but got a free win in a walkover against Colombia. Berube Perron and Dolinar lost against Ecuador after Canada had already won both singles matches.  

Canada finished third in the group, not enough to advance to the World Group. 

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On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, Canada’s quad team, led by world No. 9 Rob Shaw, looked to punch their ticket at the qualifying event in Thailand. 

The quad team had a similar result to the men’s squad over in Lima, finishing second in their round robin group before losing to Chile in the semifinals. 

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In the group stage, Canada defeated the Republic of Korea 2-1 but lost to Australia, including a singles loss via retirement for Shaw against his usual doubles partner Heath Davidson. 

Hisham Mohammad subbed in for Shaw in the semifinals, his first match for Canada at the World Team Cup, but was defeated by Chile’s Diego Perez. Mitch McIntyre rounded out the Canadian team, but went 0-3 in his singles matches. He did pick up a doubles win with Shaw in the tie with Korea. 

Despite the Canadian teams failing to qualify for the World Group, participation in the qualifying was critical for Paralympic eligibility.  

On the Board in 2024 

Back at the beginning of March, Shaw won his first title of the season at the Georgia Open. 

He and Davidson defeated Andy Lapthorne and Gregory Slade of Great Britain 6-3, 3-6, 10-5 to claim the title. In the semis, they beat the American-Brazilian team of Hunter Groce and Ymanitu Silva 6-2, 6-2. 

The doubles crown was the 24th on the ITF Tour in Shaw’s career. He won four titles each of the last two years and has won multiple titles in every year (except for the COVID-affected 2020 and 2021) since 2016. 

Road to the Paralympics 

As of March 20, Shaw remains the lone Canadian positioned to qualify for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris. He is in a comfortable place, with over 400 points separating him and the next player out.

Venos and Lanucha are both currently 23 spots out of qualifying for their respective draws. Venos is just a mere 127 points back of an Olympic spot however. Lanucha has a longer road, sitting just under 500 points back of the qualifying zone.