Home » Recreation and Sports

Wheelchair Tennis

Aug 13, 2008
Maintaining positive physical activities is essential for the help everyone, including those who are mobility challenged. There are many activities like wheelchair bowling and wheelchair basketball that are played by individuals worldwide who are not able to walk independently. Wheelchair tennis has become increasingly popular of late and has been played for around 30 years.

Brad Parks is considered by many as one of the leading founders of wheelchair tennis. Parks was injured in a skiing accident in 1976. The accident, which occurred during an acrobatic skiing competition, left Parks paralyzed from the waist down. While in recovery he read an article about an athlete name Jeff Minnenbraker who had been playing wheelchair tennis in a custom built wheelchair.

About 5 months after his accident, Parks tried playing wheelchair tennis on his own. Soon after, he was at his hospital for a check-up and discovered that Jeff Minnenbraker was the new recreational therapist. They met and Minnenbraker gave Parks a few lessons. It quickly became clear though that the standard hospital wheelchair would not suffice for this sport.

During the early months of 1977 Minnenbraker helped Parks to build a custom wheelchair and they began to teach camps and hold exhibition match wheelchair tennis matches across the west cost. By May of 1977 they were hosting their first wheelchair tennis tournament, which Parks won, and by 1980 the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis was founded, with Brad Parks as park of the board of directors. The popularity of the sport quickly grew and at the end of 1980, there were over 300 active wheelchair tennis players in the United States.

Today wheelchair tennis is played by thousands of people in countries all over the world. Tournaments have been held at the US Open and at Wimbledon. It is played by people old and young and has had a very positive effect on the lives of many people.

Wheelchair tennis is played on a full size court and follows the standard rules of tennis with a few exceptions. One of the biggest differences is the two bounce rule, which allows the ball to be returned on the first or second bounce. The wheelchair is considered to be part of the body, so any rules that apply to the body also apply to the chair.

When serving the ball, the player is allowed one push and must remain behind the base line. In instances where the player is not able to drop the ball on their own, another individual is allowed to drop the ball.

The player can loose a point if they do not maintain contact with their chair at all times. At least one buttock must always be in contact with the seat. They are also not allowed to use any part of their feet or legs as brakes or to help stabilize them while service the ball, returning the ball, turning, turning, or stopping while the ball is in play.

In instances where the player is unable to use their hands to propel the wheelchair, then they are permitted to use one foot, however no part of their body can touch the ground during the forward motion of the swing or until the racket has hit the ball during a serve.

Often the game is played against able bodied player, who must maintain the standard one bounce rule and other standard tennis rules.

The popularity of wheelchair tennis has steadily grown since Brad Parks took his first swing in 1976 and is today recognized world wide.
About the Author
Wheelchair tennis is one sport that is fun and can be beneficial to those that use wheelchairs. To learn more about home mobility equipment, like manual wheelchair lifts for your vehicle, visit AmeriGlide.
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