6:00am Saturday 14th April 2012
By Ned Payne
WHEELCHAIR tennis ace Louise Hunt believes she is in the form of her life as the race for selection at the London Paralympics hots up.
The Wanborough star has just over a month left to gain as many ranking points as she can, with selection for singles and doubles the potential reward for a strong final few weeks.
Some 32 women will take part in the tournament in the capital with 22 of those being the highest-ranked singles players in the world, while eight are wildcards and a player each from Asia and South America will compete having come through their own separate qualifiers.
With a world ranking of 21, Hunt is just inside the qualifying mark at present and ITF tournaments in South Africa, Israel and Japan will determine whether she makes it to the Games.
And the 20-year-old says she is as well-placed as she can be heading into the final stretch of competitions.
“I’m so happy with my game right now,” she said.
“I’d have liked to have picked up a few more ranking points but really I’m playing the best tennis I ever have.
“I’m trying focus on the journey on the way there and I think if you work hard enough the results will come.
“It’s all about small steps but of course I’m excited, how could I not be? It’s such a great opportunity.
While she has a near 50-50 win record in singles this year, Hunt has been in superb form in doubles, triumphing in 18 of her 22 matches and winning four tournaments in the process.
She partnered fellow Brit to Lucy Shuker to the Northern Counties Wheelchair Tournament title, also scooping the Bavarian Open, the Melbourne Open and the Be Active Adelaide Wheelchair Open, the latter of which was alongside Brit Jordanne Whiley.
Hunt, Shuker and Whiley could all feasibly qualify for the singles but one of the trio looks set to lose out in the doubles.
“We’ve got three top British women and I’m doing the best I possibly can to get there,” added Hunt.
“Doubles has gone really well this year, but my doubles ranking is completely irrelevant (to making the Paralympics) so singles is what I’m focusing on at the moment.”
Hunt is hoping that a home Paralympics will raise awareness of wheelchair tennis in the UK, and make the public realise it is not a once-every-four-years sport.
She said: “People forget that we are playing tournaments all year but the Paralympics is the only one they know about, as our tournaments are not always promoted on the TV “I’ve got other events that are huge as well, I want to play the Grand Slams and I’m hoping people will realise those tournaments are going on as well.”
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