Bedard, Chokyu, and Shaw claim trophies at Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships

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Philippe Bedard, Yuka Chokyu, and Rob Shaw added to their trophy cases at the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships on Sunday, as the three former champions of the tournament all claimed another title at the UBC Tennis Centre in Vancouver in the men’s, women’s and quad divisions, respectively.

Two-time Paralympian and three-time defending champion Bedard showed he was the class of the men’s tournament, defeating 17-year-old Tomas Bourassa 6-0, 6-0 in the men’s final.
Bourassa had been the story of the event so far, with the British Columbian picking up the biggest wins of his young career, first against No. 3 seed Richard Peter to advance out of the group stage, and then versus No. 2-seeded Jean-Paul Melo in the semifinals. His inspired run came to an end though against the experienced Bedard, Canada’s top-ranked men’s player.

“It’s always an objective for me to win nationals, so it feels good to win a fourth in a row,” Bedard said. “It’s icing on the cake on a great year for me with Rio [his second Paralympic Games] and getting married, so it feels really good.”

In addition to his singles triumph, Bedard clinched his sixth straight national doubles title, this time with partner Melo. The top-seeded pair defeated Bourassa and fellow teenager Thomas Venos, also from BC, in the final by a score of 6-1, 6-2.

Heading into this year’s tournament, Chokyu had 10 women’s titles to her name dating all the way back to 1994. A world No. 6 in 1998, she is one of the best wheelchair tennis players to come out of the country. Now semi-retired, she was able to make a triumphant return to nationals this year, claiming her 11th singles crown with a 6-3, 6-1 win over defending champion Maude Jacques in the final.

“The crown of nationals is such an honour, so I put pressure on myself because I want to win and get the crown,” Chokyu said. “I was nervous with the lack of preparation, but I think in the final, both my opponent and I played much better than we did in the round-robin so I think it was a good end.”

Jacques was able to leave the court a winner though, as she teamed with Tara Llanes to win the doubles crown. The pair beat youngsters Natalia Lanucha and Megan Smith 6-0, 6-0.

In the quad championship match, it was a topsy-turvy duel between top seed Shaw and former world No. 2 Sarah Hunter. But Shaw came through a tough one by a score of 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and five minutes. Coming back from a set down and then 0-2 down in the third set, he re-grouped to maintain his standing at the top of the quad category in Canada.

“It was awesome,” Shaw said. “Last year’s title meant a lot to me, but this year I feel like I’ve really shown that I am the best in Canada for my division and I’ve played good, consistent tennis. I feel like I’ve earned the right to say that I’m part of the elite crowd and it wasn’t just a one-time fluke.”

Shaw was able to defend both his titles from a year ago, as in the doubles final he and teammate Gary Luker, the top seeds, won their second consecutive trophy together with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Hunter and Mitch McIntyre.

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