Double Paralympic champion Peter Norfolk MBE and Nottingamshire's two-time Paralympian David Phillipson were on hand to inspire the next generation of players at a Disability Tennis Festival run in partnership with The University of Nottingham on Tuesday.
Hosted by the Tennis Foundation, in partnership with the University of Nottingham, the Lawn Tennis Association, and the International Tennis Federation, the festival at Nottingham Tennis Centre also helped celebrate the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with a Disability.
The festival welcomed players of all ages and abilities and gave local members of the community the chance to try tennis for the first time.
“On the back of the momentum created by the London 2012 Paralympic Games, days like this in Nottingham show the range of options available for disabled people to get involved in tennis whether it’s playing for fun, competing, coaching or volunteering,” said Norfolk, who has won five medals at the last three Paralympic Games.
“The best thing about tennis is how adaptable it is and a lot of people think wheelchair tennis is the only option, but the sport can be adapted for anyone, for example if you have a learning disability or are deaf or visually impaired.
The festival began with disability inclusion training in the morning for those who deliver tennis, including officials, coaches, volunteers and those who work at tennis venues so they can feel more confident when dealing with people who may have additional needs.
This was followed by a schools session to showcase the support British tennis can give both Special Schools and mainstream schools to adapt tennis for disabled pupils. This support includes training and free equipment.
"It's been a great, fun day and I really enjoyed being able to pass on some tips and share the fun that I get from wheelchair tennis at the end of what has been a busy season," said British No. 3 Phillipson, who was runner-up in the men's singles and men's doubles over the weekend at the British Wheelchair Tennis Championships.
The focus for the afternoon were free come and try sessions for anyone who wanted to give tennis a go for the first time or who wanted to brush up their skills, with help and advice from licensed coaches, who were on hand to offer expert tips with, all equipment provided. Everyone who attended left with information on where they can continue playing near them.
“The ITF is delighted to have worked with the Tennis Foundation and the University of Nottingham to bring today's Festival to Nottingham and this is all part of a global campaign to raise awareness of, and promote wheelchair tennis on today's International
Day of Persons with a Disability,” said the ITF’s Wheelchair Tennis Manager, Mark Bullock.
Hannah Webber, Disability Sports Officer, added, “The University of Nottingham is always excited to be working on initiatives such as this and this has been a great opportunity to work with the ITF and Tennis Foundation again. We see it as a great way to not only raise awareness of disability sport, but also get students and staff involved in tennis whether it be as a volunteer, coach or player.”
You can find out more about different versions of tennis and where to play near you at www.tennisfoundation.org.uk.
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