Lapthorne and Whiley set sights on United States titles
IT IS three years since stars Andy Lapthorne and Jordanne Whiley both won their London 2012 medals and a year to go until the start of the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
However, the current focus for the Hillingdon wheelchair tennis duo is the first of two back-to-back tournaments in the USA, where they play the final Super Series tournament of the year, before moving on to the US Open Grand Slam.
World number three Lapthorne is starting this week’s USTA Championships in St Louis as the only player to have beaten both of the world’s top two, American David Wagner and Australian Alcott, so far this season.
The reigning US Open quad singles champion is aiming for another big performance as he bids to go one better than his runners-up berth at July’s British Open, the last Super Series event.
“It’s been a bit of an up and down year so far, but this is the time of the season I really seem to do well, so I hope that will be the case again these next two weeks.
“All four of us at the top of the rankings are quite closely matched, so I’m really up for the challenges ahead,” said Lapthorne, who was quad singles runner-up to Wagner in St Louis this time last year, before turning the tables on the American
Dylan in the final in New York to win his first Grand Slam singles title.
“New York is a city I love and it’s a dream come true to go back there and to try and defend a Grand Slam singles title. I hope I can do it justice and perform well.”
Lapthorne also has designs on doubles success, having started 2015 by winning his fourth Australian Open doubles crown.
“I would like to end the year at the top of the doubles rankings,” added Lapthorne, who partners fellow Brit Jamie Burdekin in St Louis, before pairing up with Alcott in New York in an attempt to dethrone three-time Paralympic champions and defending champions Nick Taylor and Wagner.
“David and Nick are the two players currently ahead of me in the doubles rankings, so in that respect it’s another really big couple of weeks.”
With Lapthorne and Whiley among six Brits on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis Performance Programme who are bidding for titles in St Louis this week, Whiley will be aiming to add to her maiden Super Series singles title at the British Open.
She then returns to New York as defending doubles champion with Japan’s Yui Kamiji, having succeeded Kamiji as world No.1 in the women’s doubles rankings following the British Open.