Wheelchair Tennis is one of the fastest growing wheelchair sports in the world. It integrates very easily with non-disabled tennis, since it can be played on any regular tennis court, with no modifications to rackets or balls.
There are lots of tournaments for wheelchair tennis players, from beginner level right up to the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, where the world’s top players compete in three divisions – men, women, and quad (quad category is for those with a disability in three or more limbs.)
The match setup is also very similar to non-disabled tennis with the same scoring system – the first to six games wins a set or, if the set is tied, the winner is decided by tie-break - and only a couple of rule changes, with the ball allowed to bounce twice before the return shot is made, with the second bounce allowed to land off court.
Wheelchair tennis is played at all four of the Grand Slams, with British players enjoying plenty of success in recent years, particularly through the doubles pairing of Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid. In fact, Great Britain is one of the strongest nations in the world in wheelchair tennis and at the Rio Paralympics won one third of all the medals on offer – six medals out of a possible 18.
The Tennis Foundation runs a varied junior programme for wheelchair tennis and the highlight of their competition calendar is the School Games National Finals – where you will be watching the most promising young players battle it out for the medals.
Did You Know?
- One difference between able-bodied tennis and Wheelchair Tennis is that the latter are allowed one push of their wheelchair before they serve (although the wheelchair must not touch or go past the boundary line before service is taken).
- Wheelchair tennis was introduced to the Paralympic Games in Seoul, 1988, becoming an official Paralympic sport at the 1992 Paralympics.
- Wheelchair Tennis was created by Brad Parks, after he was wheelchair-bound following a skiing incident.
- One of the biggest myths about wheelchair tennis is that you have to use a chair in everyday life in order to be eligible to play. In fact, the game is open to anyone with a physical disability including (but by no means limited to) spinal injuries, spina bifida, limb loss, hyper mobility, and cerebral palsy.