Old rivalries will revive while promising names will look to take the top honours when the wheelchair tennis competition begins at the Asian Para Games 2022 in Hangzhou, on October 23.
As many as 45 athletes from 10 countries will compete for six medals over six days at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Tennis Centre.
Much like the past edition in Indonesia 2018, Japan will be one of the dominant forces in Hangzhou. In Indonesia, Japan finished on top with four golds from the total of 10 medals, followed by South Korea and China.
With no Shingo Kunieda at this Asian Para Games, after the legendary player called his retirement earlier in the year, their seasoned star Yui Kamiji (World No. 2) will lead the side.
Kamiji already has displayed her ominous form this year having clinched the women’s singles titles in French Open and the recently-concluded US Open titles. The Japanese star will be hoping to enthral the Hangzhou 2022 audience on her way to retaining her women’s singles and doubles titles along with Manami Tanaka.
In women’s singles, China’s Zhu Zhenzhen and Kamiji’s compatriot Momoko Ohtani will be among the other stars to watch out for.
Thailand will put their hopes on the former champion Sakhorn Khanthasit to put up a fight against Kamiji, while others like Suthi Khlongrua (men’s) and Wanitha Inthanin (women’s doubles) will also be looking to make their marks.
Sensational Oda to steal the show
In men’s events, Japan will rest their hopes on Takashi Sanada (World no. 8) and their rising star Tokito Oda, the junior world no. 1 who created a stir when a 17-year-old Oda became the youngest man ever to win a Wimbledon singles title in any discipline in July 2023.
Sanada, who won the US open men’s doubles title with France’s Stephanie Houdet, will be focusing on both singles and doubles hoping to continue legend Kunieda’s impressive gold medal legacy.
Oda will be hoping to add his first Asian Para Games title to his Grand Slams and should pair up with Sanada for men’s doubles. Republic of
Korea’s Im Ho-won and Oh Sang-ho will be ready to challenge them.
Japan will also have veteran Mitsuteru Moroishi and Koji Sugeno as the favourites in the quads event, while the Republic of Korea will rely on Kim Myungje and Cha MinHyeung to bring home glory in the quad’s doubles.
Wheelchair Tennis, which has now become one of the fastest growing wheelchair sports in the world, has been part of all three editions of Asian Para Games to date, while it made it Paralympics debut at the 1992 Barcelona Games.