Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shuker ready for Wimbledon debut

Somerset-based Lucy Shuker will be the sole British representative in this year's wheelchair doubles events at Wimbledon from 3-5 July.

Although the men's competition is in its fifth year, this is the first time that women's doubles have been included and Shuker is thrilled to be involved.

"When it was announced that there was going to be a women's doubles event, I really wanted to be there," she said.

"It's a real dream come true to have the chance to play at Wimbledon."

Shuker, who took up wheelchair tennis in 2003 after a motorcycle accident left her paralysed, will be playing with Australian Daniela di Toro at SW19 after the pair teamed up in Australia for a couple of tournaments earlier this season.

"Although my ranking was high enough to give me a chance of a place, Dani's wasn't," she told BBC Sport. "But she won the doubles at last month's Japan Open which got her ranking up so we are really looking forward to the challenge.

"Some of the guys who have played in the men's event over the last few years have said that the style of play that Dani and I have with plenty of volleys and drop shots and slice should work better on the grass than it does on other surfaces like clay."

As well as Shuker and di Toro, world number one singles and doubles player Esther Vergeer will team up with world number two Korie Homan in a formidable all-Dutch pairing while Jiske Griffioen of the Netherlands will play with Frenchwoman Florence Gravellier while the field is completed by another Dutch player Sharon Walraven and Germany's Katharina Kruger.


Shuker and di Toro will train together for four days before the event at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton using their grass court to hone their skills.

"Although competing at last year's Beijing Paralympics was one of my career highlights so far, in tennis terms Wimbledon is a massive competition so I think it will be the biggest event I've played in," said the Briton.

"Hopefully we can do ourselves justice."

In the men's doubles, the defending champions Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink of the Netherlands both return, but with different partners.

Ammerlaan will play with Japan's Shingo Kunieda, who is the current singles number one and who was part of the 2006 winning pairing with Satoshi Saida while Vink plays with compatriot Maikel Scheffers.

Michael Jeremiasz, who won the inaugural 2005 event with Britain's Jayant Mistry, will play with compatriot Stephane Houdet, the doubles world number one as they bid to add the Wimbledon crown to their Paralympic gold medal from Beijing.

Beijing silver medallists Stefan Olsson and Peter Wikstrom will be hoping for revenge on the French pairing.

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