By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
The best Wheelchair Tennis players in the world are coming to Mission Viejo, Calif.
Mission Viejo will be hosting the 2013 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, with the 2013 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters (singles) taking place from Nov. 5-11 and the ITF Wheelchair Doubles Masters being held Nov. 7-11. Both events will be played at the Marguerite Tennis Pavilion.
The NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, first held in 1994, is the ITF year-end championship for the world’s top eight men’s and women singles players and the world’s top four quad singles players. This is the first time that either of these year-end events has been hosted in the United States, and the first time since 2002 that the two events have been held at the same venue.
The ITF Wheelchair Doubles Masters is the flagship wheelchair tennis doubles event. First staged in 2000, the season-ending event currently features the world’s top eight men’s pairs, top six women’s pairs and top four quad pairs.
The United States will be well-represented in quad singles and doubles by the three-time Paralympic Quad doubles gold medalists David Wagner (Chula Vista, Calif.) and Nick Taylor (Wichita, Kan.). Wagner and Taylor won the US Open Wheelchair Tennis Competition quad doubles title this year for the sixth time, remaining the only team ever to hoist the trophy at that event. Wagner also won the 2012 US Open Wheelchair Competition quad singles title.
Other Americans competing in Mission Viejo include Stephen Welch (Southlake, Texas) and Greg Hasterok (San Diego), both of whom will be playing doubles in the men’s wheelchair division.
This year’s tournament will also include a Wounded Warriors Clinic and “Tennis Greats Night,” both held on Saturday, Nov. 9. In addition to top wheelchair tennis players, the “Tennis Greats Night” will include International Tennis Hall of Famer Roy Emerson, former Roland Garros men’s singles champion Michael Chang and five-time Grand Slam doubles champions Bob Lutz and Dennis Ralston. A number of wheelchair tennis clinics and exhibitions also will take place throughout the week.
Mission Viejo has been a longtime supporter of wheelchair tennis. For seven years, it has hosted the USTA-ITF International Junior Wheelchair Tennis Camp for youths ages 12-18. This year’s camp included players from 10 different states and six different countries.