Coming off the heels of the Paralympics in Rio, many people are looking at sports in a whole new way. The television and web coverage of the Paralympics was fantastic, giving viewers a look into the world of adaptive sports, a world full of athletes who focus on their abilities, not their disabilities, athletes who meet challenges head on and never give up.
Adaptive/wheelchair sports are growing rapidly here in the US, and the opportunities for both kids and adults to participate are greatly increasing, allowing individuals with disabilities to get off the sidelines and get into the game. One of the fastest growing wheelchair sports is wheelchair tennis. Wheelchair tennis can be played by anyone with permanent disabling conditions that require the use of a wheelchair for sports involvement.
The rules are the same, with the one exception that you get two bounces in wheelchair tennis. Other than that the rules are exactly the same. But while the rules are the same, the game itself is a bit different, for example, you won’t see two-handed backhands, and a wheelchair player can’t move laterally so there is much more up and back movement. But like a tennis player who should always be moving their feet, a wheelchair player needs to keep their chair moving constantly as well.
Wheelchair tennis is the only sport in which a wheelchair player and an able-bodied player can compete against each other. There are currently kids in chairs competing on their high school teams, and adult players in chairs playing in USTA Leagues across the country. There are even some universities including University of Arizona and University of Alabama that have college Wheelchair tennis teams.
If you have never seen wheelchair tennis, we are lucky here in Southern California to have a world-class wheelchair tennis right in our own backyard. November 2nd through 6th the Marguerite Tennis Pavilion in Mission Viejo will host the UNIQLO Doubles Masters. The event, which draws players from around the globe, includes the top eight men’s teams, top six women’s teams and top four men’s quad teams.
For more information about wheelchair tennis, go to https://www.usta.com/Adult-Tennis/Wheelchair-Tennis/Wheelchair/ or http://www.itftennis.com/wheelchair/home.aspx
By Cari Buck