5 blind and vision impaired athletes returned home in May from Alicante, Spain having competed in the 1st international blind tennis tournament.
Thanks to the generosity of many individual and organisations such as Tennis Australia, Tennis Victoria, UFS Pharmacies, Primary Club and Vision Australia, the Australian tennis players made history as the first Australian team to compete oversees.
Playing against athletes from 14 countries, the team took on well-established nations such as Japan, where the game originated.
Classification of all participants was held prior to commencement of the tournament by an international classifier, Gaetan Li, to ensure everyone was playing in the right categories. The sight classifications are B1, B2 and B3. B1 players have no vision or no functional vision. B2 and B3 players have a small amount of useful sight within a reduced field of vision.
Raised tactile lines were used as navigational markers to assist the athletes to recognise their position on the court. The balls used are audible and emit a sound when played. Players use their heightened sense of hearing and develop their spatial awareness to track and hit the audible tennis balls.
The excitement for all players participating at this event was evident by the laughter, comraderie and enthusiasm to be part of the 1st International Blind Tennis Tournament.
Participants and volunteers were thrilled to have the opportunity to attend this wonderful event. “What an amazing trip – what a tournament, what an experience! A big thank you to our coaching team and the volunteer guides who came to the tournament to assist us” said blind tennis player Genamarie.
Although Australia didn’t win the overall B1, B2 or B3 category, the experience and skills learnt by players was invaluable.
Congratulations to Adam for making it through to the Men’s B3 semi-final against Poland.
The champions of each category were:
B1 Male – Hirofumi Ono (Japan)
B1 Female – Aya Uchida (Japan)
B2 Male – Ximo Garcia (Spain)
B2 Female – Chizuko Hara (Japan)
B3 Male – Chris Baily (Great Britain)
B3 Female – Charlotte Schwagmeir (Germany)
A number of consolation games were held, with Sandra Knight winning the B3 Women’s consolation game against Poland and Michael Fogarty winning the B3 Men’s consolation game again Poland.
On the last day of the tournament, guess who won the “Best Fairplay Award”? You guessed it…… Australia. To be awarded this trophy as the ‘Australian Team’ was an honour for everyone on the team.
Once again, thank you to everyone for your support and for making the dream become a reality!