Grafton City Tennis Club held its inaugural Wheelchair Tennis Open on Saturday 25 February 2017, with Ability Links and the Clarence Valley Council providing funding to support the weekend.
There were 12 wheelchair players, ranging in age from 9 to 60, and 6 able-bodied players (not using a wheelchair) who participated in the two-day event.
In the weeks leading up to the event, organiser and club pro Phil Beckman gave his junior players the opportunity to use the tennis wheelchair to gain some understanding of the skills needed to play tennis in a wheelchair.
Phil has a strong interest in supporting all children and adults of all abilities to come along to Grafton Tennis Club and give the game a go. His willingness to raise awareness of inclusion is motivated by his passion for tennis. He is happy to help anyone give it a go and to support others to enjoy tennis.
The wheelchair tournament weekend provided a great opportunity to build awareness about all abilities sport, with around 100 spectators coming to watch the event.
Day one saw a round robin singles wheelchair competition with ‘up down’ exhibition matches late in the day. Day two hosted the singles finals and a round robin doubles wheelchair competition.
The event also included a round robin where the junior kids played against a wheelchair junior player, who proved to be a star of the tournament with exceptional tennis skills for his age. The Belonging Project plans to meet up with the wheelchair tennis junior to help write some stories and share a small video clip about playing tennis with all-ability players.
Tennis Australia is working towards having a sanctioned tournament regularly in Grafton in the future.