Toronto, October 19, 2015 – Tennis Canada announced on Monday that the top wheelchair tennis players from around the nation will be travelling to Vancouver this week to compete for titles at the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships, set to take place October 22-25 at the University of British Columbia Tennis Centre.
Leading the field is two-time defending men’s singles champion Philippe Bedard, who teamed up with the recently retired Joel Dembe to win Canada’s first-ever wheelchair tennis medal at this summer’s Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games. Eric Gilbert, a regular member of the Canadian national men’s team, will be also be in contention.
Gary Luker will be the highest-ranked competitor in Vancouver. World No. 22, he will be the top seed of the quad draw followed by Robert Shaw at world No. 55.
“Tennis Canada is delighted to once again host our hallmark wheelchair tennis event in BC,” said Janet Petras, director of wheelchair tennis, Tennis Canada. “I would like to thank the British Columbia Wheelchair Sports Association and the Birmingham family for their longstanding support of wheelchair tennis in Canada. We are looking forward to seeing local tennis fans come out to cheer on the competitors from across our nation.”
The Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships, one of the biggest and most important wheelchair tennis events played in Canada each year, will feature four categories – men’s, women’s, quad, and for the first time, juniors. This will be the first time the tournament is played in BC since 2006-2007, when Whistler was the host city. Prior to this year, Vancouver was last home to the event in 2003.
British Columbia will be well-represented in the field across all categories. Tara Llanes, last year’s singles runner-up and doubles champion, as well as Kirsten Sharp, highlight the women’s player list. The junior draw will be led by two promising teenagers from BC, Tomas Bourassa and Thomas Venos. Several BC residents are also in the men’s and quad events, such as world No. 69 Adam Frost, No. 268 Gary Regan, and No. 300 Richard Peter.
“BC Wheelchair Sports is very excited to be hosting the 2015 Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships at the beautiful UBC Tennis Centre,” said Gail Hamamoto, executive director for BCWSA, the host organizer. “We are grateful for the support of our partners, including Tennis Canada, the Province of British Columbia, ViaSport, City of Vancouver, UBC and the Birmingham Family. This is a wonderful opportunity to see the country’s best players in action and to create lasting legacies for the sport of wheelchair tennis.”
Admission is free for fans to attend all four days of the event at the UBC Tennis Centre and check out high-quality wheelchair tennis up close. Live streaming for the event is also available.