Travel-wise it was certainly not an easy job for some players, but tournament director Esther Vergeer of the ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament is delighted that the wheelchair tennis top has found Rotterdam Ahoy again. With eight players from the global top-twelve, the 13th edition of the tournament - despite everything - is still very busy.
Wheelchair tennis players in Rotterdam are extra eager, tournament director Vergeer notes. "Because of the corona measures, most wheelchair tournaments were canceled in the past year. There are players who even played no or hardly any tournament for a year. That's why I thought it was extra nice that ABN AMRO indicated at an early stage: if it valid tournament continues, the wheelchair tournament must also continue, which says something about the loyalty of the sponsor and the successful integration between able-bodied and wheelchair tennis. ''
The players, with the Argentinian Gustavo Fernandez as title favorite, stay - just like in other years - in the same hotel as the able-bodied top players. "The same strict safety requirements apply to us. The biggest difference with other years is that now all our matches are played on court 1. And because many players have not come into action for a long time, I honestly have no idea about their level." The scrapping of many tournaments means that the world ranking has been 'frozen', which means, among other things, that in Rotterdam Ahoy tournament favorite Gustavo Fernandez will be followed by the Brit Alfie Hewett, last year's winner.
Three Dutch people will take action in Ahoy this year. The young Ruben Spaargaren will take on the very experienced former winner Stéphane Houdet in his first round today. The veterans Maikel Scheffers and Tom Egberink, who focus as a double on the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, are also present again. Vergeer: "They have been able to train well at Papendal again in recent months."
Who came out stronger from the tournament-less period is now a question, which will be answered on Sunday, when the final is played in singles. Of course, the wheelchair tennis players miss the public in this corona edition and the wheelchair clinics that are normally held in Ahoy. Nevertheless, there is also good news, Vergeer emphasizes: "All matches can be seen on YouTube. There are more countries that also broadcast the images, and the final can also be seen on NOS on Sunday. And yes, of course it is a pity that there can now be no audience, last year we had about 1500 spectators at the final. On the other hand, we are especially delighted what is now, that the tournament can continue."
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