The ITF's World Team Cup European Qualification tournament begins in Vilamoura tomorrow ©ITF

Austria’s men and Russia’s women will start proceedings as favourites when the International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Team Cup European qualification gets under way in Vilamoura tomorrow.

The Portuguese seaside town is set to host the regional qualifier for the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis team competition for the third successive year.

Some 13 men’s teams and six women’s teams will fight for one spot each in this year’s finals, across five days of action at Vilamoura Tennis Academy.

In the men’s event, the teams will be split into four round-robin pools.

After three days of preliminary action, the winners of each pool will advance to the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, the six women’s teams will be split into two pools, after which the top two nations from each will contest semi-finals.

World number five Giulia Capocci will hope to win the women's event ©Getty Images
World number five Giulia Capocci will hope to win the women's event ©Getty Images 

On Saturday (April 6), one team from each draw will be crowned champion, thereby earning a spot at the World Team Cup finals, scheduled to take place in Israel from May 13 to 18.

After narrowly losing to Poland in the 2017 European qualification final, Austria will be favourites to win the event.

Having finished ninth at the 2018 World Team Cup finals, they only marginally missed out on automatic qualification.

Second seeds Greece also have a good record at the qualifying tournament, having won it three times since 2013.

Meanwhile, on the women’s side, top seeds Russia last won the event in 2016 when they beat Italy in the final.

A repeat of that match-up could be on the cards this year, as Italy’s team boasts the world number five, Giulia Capocci.

Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark and Turkey are the other nations completing the women’s draw.