FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2022
CONTACT: Jennifer Edmonson, 225-939-4086 or Rusty Jabour, 225-505-3104
Grand Slam Winners Coming to Baton Rouge for 2022 Cajun Classic
At least 64 of the world’s top-ranked professionals, including several Grand Slam winners, will compete in the 31st annual Cajun Classic Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, March 8-13, in Baton Rouge, at the Paula G. Manship YMCA.
This year’s field is comprised of 110 professional and amateur players from 21 countries and 22 states (including Louisiana), and will include the winners and finalists of the world’s four Grand Slams: the U.S. Open, the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon.
Officials from Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser’s office and East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s office are slated to officially welcome the athletes at “Louisiana Day at the Cajun Classic” on Saturday, March 12, at noon.
The Cajun Classic, long recognized as one of the most popular wheelchair tournaments worldwide, is a “Super Series” level event, just one step below the Grand Slams. There are only six Super Series tournaments in the world, and only two in the United States (the other in St. Louis).
Tournament play begins Tuesday, March 8, and continues through the finals on Sunday, March 13, at the Manship YMCA, Lamar Tennis Center. The Cajun Classic is part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, is presented by the Greater Baton Rouge Community Tennis Association (GBRCTA), and is produced by the Baton Rouge Wheelchair Tennis Association (BRWTA).
Admission to the tournament is free for all days and all matches, including the finals. Tournament play begins at 9 a.m. each day and continues into the evenings until all matches are completed.
On the professional side, the 2022 Cajun Classic will feature 20 top International Tennis Federation (ITF) stars, including:
- Seven of the top-10 men: ITF World #1 and Defending Singles Champion, Shingo Kunieda of Japan; #2 Alfie Hewett of Great Britain; #3 Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina; #5 Stephane Houdet of France; #8 Nicolas Peifer of France; #9 Tokito Oda of Japan; and #10 Martin de la Puente of Spain.
- Five of the top-10 women: ITF World #1 Diede de Groot of the Netherlands; #3 and Defending Singles Champion, Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands; #5 Lucy Shuker of Great Britain; #8 Dana Mathewson of the United States; and #9 Zhenzhen Zhu of the People's Republic of China.
“As we celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Cajun Classic, we are excited to host these amazing athletes from around the world and the United States. We are also pleased to host the largest Junior division in Cajun Classic history, with a record 16 Junior players entered,” said Tournament Director Jennifer Edmonson of Baton Rouge.
Edmonson said the Cajun Classic also welcomes several Baton Rouge amateurs who will compete. The SportsBR foundation, which has been a longtime supporter of the Cajun Classic, will sponsor the Louisiana players’ entry fees again this year, as well as provide a lunch for all of the athletes and volunteers.
The Cajun Classic is sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the United States Tennis Association (USTA). The tournament is part of ITF’s UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour where players compete for more than $1 million in prize money in tournaments throughout the world. The rules of wheelchair tennis are the same as regular tennis, except the ball is allowed to bounce twice.
Edmonson said the Cajun Classic is made possible by a host of donors and sponsors, including the presenting sponsor GBRCTA, and platinum sponsors: the United States Tennis Association (USTA), USTA-Southern Section, Louisiana Tennis Association (LTA), The Louisiana Office of Tourism, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, Cox Communications, Baton Rouge Rehab Hospital, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Sunrise Medical, Top End, Tiger Canopy, and Gill’s Crane Service.
The 2022 Cajun Classic also received $34,000 from the Edward Jones Investments / Tex Morris “Hallowheel” charity tennis tournament, held last October in Baton Rouge.
GBRCTA President Stephanie Le Grange said Baton Rouge tennis league players help sponsor the Cajun Classic through the City Championship league, where part of the league fees are dedicated to help sponsor the Cajun Classic.
“The Cajun Classic is an amazing world-class event that we are proud to present. We welcome everyone to come watch these incredible athletes,” said Le Grange.
The Cajun Classic is produced by the Baton Rouge Wheelchair Tennis Association, a non-profit, volunteer board that raises funds to pay for the required prize money, ITF-badged referee and umpire fees, meals, drinks, transportation, accommodations at the host hotel, player party, programs, and wheelchair repair station.
Financial support and donations are still being accepted to pay for costs associated with the tournament. Persons or businesses interested in helping may contact Jennifer Edmonson through the Cajun Classic website: http://brwta.org/cajun-classic or by calling 225-939-4086.
Related wheelchair tennis links
International Tennis Federation: http://beta.itftennis.com/wheelchair/home.aspx
USTA Wheelchair Tennis: http://www.usta.com/Play-Tennis/Wheelchair-Tennis/Wheelchair