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By Oli Dickson Jefford at Wimbledon
Andy Lapthorne’s Wimbledon may have ended in defeat but it provided a moment he will never forget.
Feltham’s Lapthorne, who is supported by the LTA’s Wheelchair Tennis Performance Pathway, and American partner David Wagner were beaten 6-7 (4) 6-2 6-3 by Dutch duo Niels Vink and Sam Schröder in the quad wheelchair doubles final, the last match at the All England Club this year.
The defeat ended the 31-year-old and Wagner’s reign at Wimbledon, having won the title in 2019 and in 2021, and there was understandable disappointment about a first doubles loss at his home Slam.
However, Lapthorne was thrilled that he was able to fulfil his dream by playing on Court 1 - the first quad wheelchair match to ever be played on the court.
He said: “I’ve been here quite a lot and I’m becoming more and more involved here. I asked if there was the possibility to get some quad tennis onto Court 1 and they delivered on their promise.
“I have to say thank you for having the opportunity to go out there and do that is really big for someone who was a kid coming here. As a child coming here, that was a dream come true.
“Unfortunately the result didn’t go the way I wanted it to but that’s something that will stay with me forever. Hopefully next year we won’t have to ask and it just happens.
“My friends are very special, they’ve turned out in force again this year and supported me, got behind me and it was an amazing experience.
“It just comes down to one or two points here and there in doubles and we didn’t quite play well on the bigger points.”
Action at the All England Club was ultimately a bittersweet experience for Lapthorne, who lost in the opening round of the singles to Heath Davidson.
However, his love for the game has not yet dimmed with a return next year looking likely.
Lapthorne added: “When you lose in singles it’s never nice. I come here with high hopes, my friends and family turn up, so I want to do well for them and I’d never lost here in doubles until today.
“You can’t win them all. I’m getting older, I’ve won an awful lot in my career, and I’m very grateful and thankful for the people around me and the amount of support I’ve had here. My team are amazing.
“I’ve had great fun and at the end of the day if you can keep being that kid that was growing up, loving tennis into your 30s you’re doing something right, and you’re not working a day in your life.
“I go away disappointed but I’m happy that I’m still enjoying the game.”