The USTA has announced the field for the 2011 U.S. Open Wheelchair Competition. The event, in its sixth year, will be held Sept. 8-11, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The competition will feature 20 of the top wheelchair tennis athletes from around the globe.
The 2011 U.S. Open Wheelchair Competition will feature a Men’s, Women’s and Quad Division, and will include six events: Men’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles, Quad Singles and Quad Doubles. Wheelchair tennis follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis, except that the ball can bounce twice.
This is the first time that the world’s top seven ranked men’s and women’s wheelchair players (according to the July 18 ITF Rankings) will all enter the tournament. The top three ranked quad players also will all compete (world number three Johan Andersson recently retired). Additionally, one wild card was selected on both the men’s, women’s, and quad sides. The total purse for the event will be $120,000, a $20,000 increase in prize money over last year.
This year’s field will feature the five-time and defending women’s singles champion Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands, who will look to continue her unbeaten streak of more than 420 consecutive match wins. The field also will include defending men’s singles champion Shingo Kunieda of Japan, who holds a 25-1 singles record this year, and two-time quad singles champion Peter Norfolk of Great Britain. Noam Gershony of Israel, and Marjolein Buis of the Netherlands, will both be making their U.S. Open debuts in the quad draw and women’s draw, respectively. To classify as a quad competitor, a player must have substantial loss of function in one or both lower extremities and one or both upper extremities.
The U.S. will be represented in singles and doubles by the two-time Paralympic Quad doubles gold medalists David Wagner,of Hillsboro, Ore. and Nick Taylor of Wichita, Kan. Wagner is the defending U.S. Open Quad singles champion and looking to win his third consecutive Grand Slam Quad singles title. Other Americans include 21-year-old Emmy Kaiser of Fort Mitchell, Ky., the top-ranked American woman player, who will compete in the women’s singles and doubles events, and 39-year-old former world number one Stephen Welch of Southlake, Texas, is a four-time Paralympian and 1996 doubles gold medalist, who will compete in the men’s singles and doubles. Welch, Kaiser, and Taylor all received wild cards into the tournament.
The USTA was officially designated by the USOC as the national governing body for the Paralympic sport of wheelchair tennis in June 2002, becoming the first Olympic national governing body to earn this recognition. As the national governing body for wheelchair tennis, the USTA manages wheelchair tennis in the United States, including the development of local programming, the sanctioning of tournaments, overseeing wheelchair rankings, creating and managing a High Performance program for developing elite disabled athletes, and selecting teams to compete internationally for the United States.