There are some familiar faces in Australia’s Paralympics Tennis team headed to Tokyo 2020 with 2016 dual gold medallist, Dylan Alcott headlining the four-member team.
Announced on Friday the team is not short of experience, joining Alcott in the quad wheelchair doubles is Heath Davidson, in 2016 they partnered to win Gold and will be keen to defend that title in Tokyo. Davidson will also be competing in the quad wheelchair singles.
Ben Weekes heads to his fifth Paralympics after first competing at Athens 2004, he’ll compete in the wheelchair singles and compete with Paralympic Games debutant Martyn Dunn for doubles. Dunn will also play singles, with six medal opportunities for the Australians.
The team could equal or better its record from 2016 with Alcott expected to win Quad Singles Gold as he hunts the illustrious Golden Slam, but his partnership with Davidson could take a second consecutive Quad Doubles Gold.
The pair didn’t get to play together at the French Open or Wimbledon but earlier this year they teamed up at the Australian Open to win the title, and Davidson has been Alcott’s hitting partner on the circuit so they haven’t been short of time working together in the past six months.
30-year-old Alcott appreciated the strength of his three teammates reaching the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
“The Team’s looking great,” Alcott said.
“Ben Weekes is going to his fifth Games. It’s incredible. Then there’s Marty going to his first Games. He’s really come a long way. He only had his accident not too long ago, so to see him at the Paralympics is pretty cool.
“Heath’s my doubles partner but also one of my best mates off the court. What athlete gets to perform on the world stage with their best mate? I get to do that, which I feel very lucky about.
“I think it’s all about perspective and my perspective is that I feel awesome and I feel grateful for the opportunity.”
The 14-time Grand Slam Champion expressed pride at being able to compete with the team again, noting that it’s the entire Australian Team not just the Tennis team that makes it special.
“Tennis Australia’s been an unbelievable support for me ever since I picked up a tennis racquet in 2013. And Paralympics Australia, too,” Alcott said
“I’m such a proud Paralympian. That culture comes from the top. So, to Lynne and Kate, (Team Co-Captains) Danni Di Toro and Ryley Batt – I’m so stoked to be part of the Team and really excited to do my bit.”
Headed to his fifth games Weekes acknowledges that every Games has been different and that he’s excited about the new partnership with Dunn.
“Every Games is different, with different obstacles to overcome. It’s always a good adventure,” Weekes said.
This time I’ve got Marty with me, he’s got a great opportunity and I’m excited to see what we can do. He’s been so open to taking the advice I pass on to him. We’ve been working on building our partnership because it does take a lot of work together to get good results.”
If anyone knows about how the Paralympics can inspire a young person it’s Weekes, who was inspired to take up wheelchair tennis after watching David Hall win Gold at Sydney 2000. Following the announcement, he hoped that this team could have a similar effect on the next generation.
“Obviously Dylan’s got a massive following so I think it’ll be good for everyone to get a look at the other Aussies on our Team as well at the Games,” he said. “It’s good for people to know that there’s a whole range of disabilities that can play. The more people know about that, the more we can increase participation.
“Already we’ve got so many young kids coming up, a great bunch of juniors coming through the ranks. I think, with Brisbane 2032, it’s going to be really good motivation for the young kids to see us and know they can kick start their own dream.”
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Kate McLoughlin, Australian Paralympic Team Chef de Mission welcomed the team announcement.
“This is a really great group of players,” McLoughlin said.
“Ben’s got vast experience, he understands the demands of a Paralympic campaign and I love that he’s sharing that knowledge with Marty, who’s just starting out at this level.
“The other pair, Dylan and Heath, have had such incredible success and I know they’re extremely determined to keep the quad doubles and singles titles in Australian hands. I can’t wait to support our wheelchair tennis squad as they aim to produce their best in Tokyo.”
Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Lynne Anderson is confident that this team can do the job for Australia and paid tribute to the organisations that have supported all four para-athletes.
“Since wheelchair tennis became a medal sport in 1992, Australia’s won three gold medals, five silver and three bronze, which really puts our two gold medals in Rio into perspective,” Anderson said.
“It was a great campaign at the last Games and I’m backing Dylan, Ben, Heath and Marty to do a great job for Australia this time around.
“Congratulations to the athletes and thank you to Tennis Australia for all you’ve done to support them along this pathway.”
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