Rob Shaw smiles during his wheelchair singles match at the French Open. He will be competing at the Paralympics in July.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Canada’s top wheelchair tennis player Rob Shaw may have one eye on the Paralympics in August, but he is doing all the right things in the meantime. 

The 34-year-old took some time off after a career-best win in April but he was back with a bang in May, picking up a pair of titles. 

In consecutive weeks, Shaw won the doubles titles at the Tram Barcelona Open and Open International de Royan, both with Aussie Heath Davidson. The victories brought his total to four titles in 2024, matching his haul in each of the previous two seasons. 

His career-high was six titles in 2019. Overall, Shaw is now the owner of 27 ITF quad doubles trophies. 

Shaw (right) and Davidson after their win in Barcelona.

Royan was not just notable for Shaw’s doubles victory, but he also went on a run in the singles, reaching his first final of 2024. 

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In the semifinals of that event, he scored a massive victory, taking down world No. 4 Donald Ramphadi in straight sets on a busy day where he played (and won) both his quarter and semifinal matches. 

“Today is probably the best I have felt on a tennis court in close to a year,” said Shaw after the win over Ramphadi. “I fully committed to playing the way I wanted to play and mentally stayed extremely strong, despite some challenging moments. There were opportunities for me to self implode, or give up, but I dug deep when I needed to, and produced some great tennis. Both of my opponents had gotten the best of me the past three matches so it was nice to get some redemption wins.”   

Shaw (right) and Ramphadi.

He lost in the final to Ahmet Kaplan. 

Unfortunately, Shaw was unable to carry the momentum from the two events into Paris. He lost his opening singles and doubles matches at Roland-Garros, where he was the lone Canadian competing in the wheelchair competition. 

McIntyre, Venos Make it Three Each 

Mitch McIntyre and Thomas Venos joined Shaw in the winner’s circle over the last four weeks, each picking up their third ITF doubles title of the year. 

Mitch McIntyre (right) and Finn Broadbent.

The same week that Shaw won his third title of 2024, McIntyre did the same, claiming the quad doubles title at an event in Padova, Italy with Finn Broadbent. It is the first time post-COVID that McIntyre has won three titles in a season. 

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Venos nearly made it two Canadian victories at that event in Padova as he reached the men’s doubles final but lost to top seeds Robin Groenewoud and Maarten Ter Hofte with partner Ezequiel Casco. 

Thomas Venos (right) and Andrew Penney.

However, that would have been Venos’ fourth title of the year. He already claimed No. 3 a week earlier at the 27e Tournoi Bulle Indoors in Switzerland with Andrew Penney. 

It is the first season with three titles in the 25-year-old’s career.  

ITF Boucherville 

The ITF Wheelchair Tour will make its first stop in Canada since April this week with the Futures Series event in Boucherville, Quebec. Play gets underway on Thursday. 

Thomas Venos leads the Canadian contingent on the men’s side, with Natalia Lanucha being the top Canadian in the women’s draw. 

Road to Paris 

Time is running out for players to get their ranking in a good enough position to qualify for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris. Qualification will be partially based on the ITF Wheelchair Singles World Ranking on July 15, leaving just under a month for players to get their ranking up. 

Thomas Venos is a ways back, currently sitting 28 spots out at No. 60. However, the gap is not too large as he is currently just 146 points back of 32nd-ranked Conner Stroud, currently the last player in the qualifying zone. 

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The women face an even longer road. Top Canadian Natalia Lanuche is 29 spots outside the Top 20 who qualify for Paris, but is over 400 points back of the 20th spot in the rankings. 

However, Rob Shaw has already booked his spot at the Paralympics.