Everything you Need to Know About Wheelchair Tennis
Physical impairment shouldn't prevent a person playing his or her favorite sport. Thanks to wheelchair tennis, tennis is now even more inclusive.
Wheelchair tennis is a variation of tennis that allows people with physical impairments in their lower limbs to play the sport. In today’s post, read about the important aspects of wheelchair tennis.
As a means to promote equality for all sports players, international sports associations usually organize an adaptive competition to suit the conditions of their participants.
And that’s how wheelchair tennis came to be. Just as its name suggests, wheelchair tennis is nearly identical to the original sport. The only difference is that the players participate on wheels. The categories include singles and doubles, for both men and women. There’s even a modality for quadriplegic players.
Rules in wheelchair tennis
First things first, this variation has all the same International Tennis Federation (ITF) rules as the original sport. The court and racket measurements, as well as the balls, are all the same.
However, the nature of this modality obviously implies a few rule alterations. The changes are the following:
Ball bounce for wheelchair tennis
This modality allows the ball to bounce twice before the player hits it to the other side of the court. The first bounce must be within the court limits. The second bounce, however, can be outside the lines.
The alteration considers the reaction speed that players in wheelchairs have. The additional bounce allows volleys to last longer and for the excitement to grow.
In wheelchair tennis, the chairs are an extension of the players’ bodies. As such, officials apply the same norms to the chairs as they would to a body part. For example, if the ball hits the chair before being hit by a racket, the player loses the point.
The chairs are designed specifically to facilitate a player’s movements without compromising their stability. Aside from being lightweight, they also feature auxiliary wheels to prevent falls and accelerate turns.
Serves in wheelchair tennis
In order to start a point, players have to serve the ball just as in traditional tennis. While players are allowed one push of the wheelchair before serving, they can’t touch any part of their chair that passes the baseline nor their imaginary vertical extension.
Unless players have a condition that requires them to use their feet, they can’t use their feet to push or stop their chair when serving or hitting the ball. Furthermore, one buttock must always be in the chair during a hit or serve.
Who can participate in wheelchair tennis?
In order to participate in an ITF competition, Paralympic Games or national tournaments, players must have a medical certificate that states their physical impairment.
Furthermore, they need to meet certain requirements, in order to compete internationally. If a player has a great level of physical immobility, he or she may use a motorized wheelchair.
The biggest wheelchair tennis tournaments
As we previously mentioned, the ITF and International Olympic Committee are the two biggest international organizers for wheelchair tennis competitions. Some of the biggest tournaments include:
- The Paralympic Games: the Paralympics take place several weeks after the Olympic Games, gathering all the fiercest competitors in the world of adaptive sports.
- Wheelchair World Team Cup: the ITF organizes the mixed-team World Cup in a different country every year. Young athletes also face off in the juniors category.
- Grand Slams: the famous ATP tournament also has a wheelchair modality. Argentinian Gustavo Fernández won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2019.
There are also smaller tournaments that serve as preludes to the bigger events. Wheelchair tennis is a great option for those who refuse to let their physical condition keep them from their passion.