By Tom Degun
December 29 - Japan's Shingo Kunieda (pictured) and the Netherlands' Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands, named as the 2009 International Tennis Federation (ITF) Wheelchair Tennis World Champions, have already set their sights on retaining their titles in 2010.
While three-time Paralympic medalist Kunieda won the award for the third year running, six-time Paralympic medalist Vergeer became World Champion for an astonishing tenth successive year.
Kunieda had a fantastic season that saw him remain unbeaten for a second successive year and unsurprisingly maintain his spot at the top of the men’s singles ranking.
The 25-year-old captured eight singles titles in 2009 including all three Grand Slam singles events, which are the Australian Open, Roland Garros and the US Open.
Kunieda also won five doubles titles and helped Japan to third place at the prestigious Invacare World Team Cup in Nottingham.
He has vowed to keep getting better in the build-up to the London 2012 Paralympics.
Kunieda said: "I'm very happy and proud to be the World Champion for three years in a row.
"To be the World Champion is my biggest goal every year and I hope to keep improving my tennis."
Kunieda and Vergeer received their awards at a special ceremony where Switzerland's Roger Federer won the men's award after claiming a record 15th Grand Slam title with his victory at Wimbledon in July.
The unstoppable Vergeer extended her unbeaten run to 383 singles matches in becoming women's wheelchair World Champion, taking her record into double figures.
The 28-year-old won seven singles titles in 2009 including the three Grand Slam events and ended the year with her 12th successive victory at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters.
Vergeer also won six doubles events and led Netherlands to a 22nd Invacare World Team Cup title but revealed that she does not plan to end her monopoly over the sport any time soon.
She said: "I'm very proud to be World Champion for ten years in a row and the competition is getting tougher.
"I've only played eight tournaments this year so knew I had to win them all which was tough but challenging but there is more motivation to work harder.
"I'm certainly going to keep going for as long as I can."
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