Ex-Ryles Park pupil pushing for Rio place
WHEELCHAIR tennis player Antony Cotterill is doing everything right to put himself in the picture for Rio 2016, according to team-mate Andy Lapthorne.
With wheelchair tennis legend Peter Norfolk retiring from top level tennis a year after London 2012, it leaves a space up for grabs in the quads doubles team.
Lapthorne, Norfolk’s partner en route to silver at London, currently leads the charge as the secondbest player in the world.
Former Ryles Park High School pupil Cotterill, however, is not far behind in fourth, one place above fellow Brit Jamie Burdekin.
The latter has previous experience of Paralympics having won bronze alongside Norfolk at Beijing 2008 while Cotterill, who first played the sport in 2004, has yet to get the nod for a Games outing.
That could all change next year and Cotterill has certainly been doing his chances no harm in 2015, partnering American David Wagner en route to quad doubles gold at the Gauteng Open in South Africa before then teaming up with Lapthorne to win their second quad doubles Super Series title together at the South Africa Open in April.
And with plenty of tennis left between now and Rio, Lapthorne knows the battle for places will go right down to the wire.
“I won the South Africa Super Series with Antony recently,” he said.
“Those two guys are battling it out to see who can qualify the highest.
“He is very good at the net and it good at getting the short ball and putting it away early. It’s a lot more like an able-bodied team. He will try and pick the volleys off.
“Then there’s Jamie Burdekin from Liverpool. He played with Peter (Norfolk) in Beijing and won a bronze medal. He is a strong contender for a place in the doubles too.
“The decision will be really hard. It’s a nice problem to have. They can go either way. They’ll all be in the team, it will just be down to the decision on the doubles.”
Lapthorne recently took a break from training to throw his support behind this year’s National Paralympic Day which will take place on July 26.
Designed to help continue the legacy of London 2012, the annual event at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will feature elite athletics and swimming as well as promoting disability sport, and Lapthorne admits the timing could not be better with Rio fast approaching.
“It’s a great event, it showcases Paralympic sport to the public. It’s great to be able to go back to the Olympic Park and see the amazing work that’s been done there,” he added.
“It’s such an amazing venue, my family are from around that neck of the woods and there are some really special memories for me.
“It just gives people the opportunity to come together and celebrate what they love about the Paralympics.
“The countdown to Rio is also well and truly on and this is a great reminder of what they can expect to see next year.”
Tickets for National Paralympic Day are available at Ticketmaster: http:// www.ticketmaster. co.uk/npd2015/. #NPD2015 is supported by Spirit of 2012