Wheelchair athletes demonstrate skills at Headwaters Racquet Club

December 10, 2014   ·   0 Comments

When you first hear the term ‘wheelchair tennis’ it seems almost impossible that a sport that requires the physical dexterity of tennis is played by people with limited physical movement.

A demonstration of the sport at the Headwaters Racquet Club in Orangeville showed that replacing legs with wheels means people can still play the sport – and play it well.

Wheelchair tennis has the same rules as regular tennis with the only exception being that a second bounce is allowed during play to allow for the extra travel needed to move a wheelchair into position.

The five athletes who gave the demonstration are all expert players and have competed in high level tournaments including the Paralympics.

The event was organized by the Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association.

“We had different programs running in different parts of the Province,” Explained the Associations Executive Director Laura Wilson. “Right now, the only three wheelchair programs we have running in Ontario are two in Scarborough, and in Mississauga at the Ontario Racquet Club. In the summer we also have one that runs outdoors at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus.”

The association also has programs for wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.

They are also looking to attract athletes who play these other sports to come out and give tennis a try.

“We’re really looking at cross promotion,” Wilson said. “If you’re a wheelchair basketball player, you should also come out and try wheelchair tennis. There’s so many para-sports out there now. Sledge hockey is a big one. We have a limited pool of athletes. It’s hard to get the critical mass of numbers.”

What is unique about wheelchair tennis, is that many athletes can compete against able bodied people.

“The joy of tennis is you can play with, and against able bodied players. That’s the benefit of wheelchair tennis that no other (para) sports have.”

The quality of play during the demonstration was very competitive with players demonstrating a high skill level. Several of the players are ranked at an international level.

While this day of tennis was only an introduction, the Headwaters Racquet Club is hoping to become more involved with plans to host tournaments in the future.

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