Photo: Antoine CouvercelleStephane Houdet and Gilles Simon at the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas tie between France and Australia in La Roche sur Yon
Wheelchair tennis again enjoyed valuable exposure to a wider audience over the weekend when leading players Stephane Houdet and David Wagner made guest appearances on court at two of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round ties in France and the United States.
Houdet, the current world No. 2 men’s singles player and world No. 1 men’s doubles player on the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour Ranking, joined fellow Frenchman Giles Simon on court for an exhibition during Sunday’s third day of the tie between France and Australia in La Roche sur Yon.
“Since we played just before the singles the crowd was already there, so we had the chance to play in front of a full stadium," said Houdet. "People really enjoyed it and were not only enthusiastic but also very active in supporting, clapping and laughing."
"I also went in the locker room beforehand and it was like I was part of the team! The more this kind of event goes on the more wheelchair tennis is integrated. Members of the crowd asked me for photos and autographs and the exhibition received a very warm welcome.”
In San Diego, world No. 1 ranked quad singles and doubles player Wagner had the honour of performing the coin toss ahead of Saturday’s doubles rubber between Bob and Mike Bryan and Colin Fleming and Dominic Inglot as USA faced Great Britain.
Houdet and Wagner are the latest wheelchair tennis players to feature at Davis Cup ties. In 2013 current men’s singles No. 1 Shingo Kunieda and current women’s singles No. 1 Sabine Ellerbrock both featured at home ties for Japan and Germany respectively, while four of Great Britain’s leading players took part in an exhibition at Great Britain’s tie against Russia.
Houdet and Wagner helped France and USA, respectively, to victories in the men's World Group and quad World Group at the 2013 BNP Paribas World Team Cup, the ITF's annual flagship wheelchair tennis team event.