Sunday, December 4, 2016
Wheelchair tennis, is one of the forms of tennis adapted for those who have disabilities in their lower bodies. The size of courts, balls, and rackets are the same, but there are two major differences from pedestrian tennis; athletes use specially designed wheelchairs and the ball may bounce up to two times. The second bounce may also occur outside the court. There are three categories; Men, Ladies, and Quads; each category has singles and doubles tournaments. Quads is the category for those with quadriplegia and it is sometimes called Mixed especially at Paralympic Games. Quads players can hold rackets taped to the hand and use electric-powered wheelchairs.3
Wheelchair tennis has been part of the Paralympics since 1992 but was first seen in Seoul in 1988. The sport was included in the 1988 Paralympic Games as a test event demonstrated by four men and women. Then in Barcelona in 1992, wheelchair tennis became a full medal sport.1 International tournaments are organized by International Tennis Federation. In wheelchair tennis, there are five top-ranked major tournaments called Super Series (SS); Australian Open (Melbourne), British Open (Nottingham), Japan Open (Iizuka), US Open (St. Louis) and French Open (Paris, BNP Paribas Open de France).3
Shelby Baron from Honolulu, Hawaii, was on the 2016 Paralympic Team. She did not medal but this was her first Paralympics. She plays in singles and doubles. Other career highlights include: 2016 World Cup team member, gold medalist in the 2016 Arizona Open doubles, and a gold medalist in the 2016 Midwest Championship doubles. Shelby was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that has resulted in weakness in her legs. Until the third grade, Shelby walked around school with crutches and sat out of most PE activities. When she was in the third grade, an adaptive PE specialist introduced her to a wheelchair. This allowed her to participate in most sports along with her classmates. She played both wheelchair basketball and tennis. Tennis was frustrating at first, but she felt so good each time she hit a ball back over the net. She currently is at the University of Alabama studying Communicative Disorders.2
1Cross, A. (2016, July 4). Sport Week: History of wheelchair tennis. Retrieved from Paralympic Movement: https://www.paralympic.org/news/sport-week-history-wheelchair-tennis
2USA, T. (2016). Shelby Baraon - Wheelchair Tennis. Retrieved from Team USA.
3Wikipedia. (2016, September 15). Wheelchair Tennis. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheelchair_tennis