The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced the selection of the following six ITF Wheelchair Tennis Ambassadors to assist with its promotion of Wheelchair Tennis worldwide:
-Jonas Bjorkman (SWE)
-Sven Groeneveld (NED)
-David Hall (AUS)
-Monique Kalkman (NED)
-Brad Parks (USA)
-Tommy Robredo (ESP)
The new ITF panel of ambassadors is a combination of former wheelchair tennis players and high profile personalities within tennis who have shown a strong interest in the sport.
Since Wheelchair Tennis became a fully integrated part of the ITF in 1997, it has become one of the fastest growing Paralympic sports and is currently played in more than 100 countries. The NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, organized by the ITF, currently consists of 160 tournaments in more than 40 countries offering over $1 million in prize money. The tour includes Wheelchair Tennis events at all four Grand Slam tournaments.
The ambassadors will make themselves available to engage with the media in their own countries or at key events, such as the Grand Slams, to assist with the promotion of the sport, which has a rapidly growing international fan base.
“For many years the ITF has sought to develop closer links between Wheelchair Tennis and the wider tennis community in order to promote the sport and ultimately expand the base of players of all ages and abilities around the world,” said Mark Bullock, ITF Wheelchair Tennis Manager.
“The announcement of our six ambassadors is an extension of the invaluable support wheelchair tennis has received from many key figures within the tennis family since its inception in 1976 and presents many exciting possibilities. We are extremely grateful for the support of our ambassadors and the key roles they will undoubtedly play in the continued growth and evolution of the sport.”
Former Davis Cup winner Tommy Robredo said: “I am delighted to be an ambassador for Wheelchair Tennis. I became the tournament director of an event in memory of my friend Santi Silvas, and have established a foundation specifically to promote the sport. I hope I can help raise the profile of this exciting part of tennis.”
Brad Parks, the founder of Wheelchair Tennis, said: “The sport of Wheelchair Tennis has been such an important part of my life and I am very pleased to be able to give back to the sport and the ITF. After my accident Wheelchair Tennis gave me back a sport that I could enjoy with able bodied friends and family, and then as the sport grew it gave me the opportunity to compete at the highest levels.”