Lawn Tennis Association Chief Executive Roger Draper visited the successful event for visually impaired tennis players in Middlesbrough last week which showcased a great example of tennis being a sport for all.
Draper attended the North East Touch Tennis Tournament on Friday at Tennis World where 36 visually impaired players of all ages and abilities took to the court in singles and doubles matches.
“It was a great day in the North East,” he said. “You realise the diversity of our sport and the huge impact it can have on many people's lives.
“One of our key focuses is growing participation and this event truly highlighted what our tennis people are achieving to get as many people playing the game as possible."
The event, supported by the Tennis Foundation, who work in partnership with the LTA to increase participation for disabled people, began with a mixed doubles competition for all age groups before an adult singles competition.
Visually impaired tennis uses a smaller tennis court with smaller rackets and an audible ball, and after wearing a pair of glasses to simulate playing with a visual impairment Draper showed anyone could have a go.
“It was really difficult,” he said. “It is quite a humbling experience actually as in your day to day life you moan and whinge about all sorts of things but when you get out on court you realise what some people go through on a daily basis.
“But tennis is a fantastic sport, it is a sport for life and it is a sport for anyone of all ages and abilities.”
Find out more about Visually Impaired Tennis.
The session in Middlesbrough was part of Draper’s day tour of the North East to witness the efforts being made to help more people the length and breadth of the country play tennis
The LTA Chief Executive visited The Northumberland Club, Sunderland Tennis Centre and Virgin Active Wearside to watch the annual Player Plus Competition – a Davis Cup style tournament where coaches can give guidance on court with their players.
Find out more about tennis for hearing impaired players
Find out more about tennis for learning disability players
Find out more about tennis for visually impaired players
Find out more about tennis for wheelchair players
Visually impaired tennis was founded in Japan in 1984 and is played on a smaller tennis court using smaller rackets and an audible ball. Players who are totally blind are allowed three bounces while partially sighted players are allowed two bounces.
Using modified equipment it is possible to engage any person with a visual impairment in tennis. The Tennis Foundation is supporting the rapid growth of this sport with it's partners including British Blind Sport (opens in new window).