Tennis Australia is expanding its wheelchair tennis development programme to keep up with soaring participation numbers following the success of its players, such as two-time Rio 2016 champion Dylan Alcott.
The new measures have been developed to not just increase participation but to also ensure players are appropriately guided from a junior to elite level.
A major component of the Tennis Australia initiative is the Wheelchair Development Coach Programme, which is set to improve access to a network of passionate and specialised coaches who can deliver quality experiences for participants of all ages and abilities.
2016 Paralympian of the Year Alcott believes the programme will help boost numbers for the sport. “Coaches play a critical role in promoting wheelchair tennis in their local communities,” he said.
“Tennis Australia is equipping coaches to create engaging and dynamic environments for wheelchair tennis players.”
Fast facts: Wheelchair tennis in the past 12 months
• An increase of three to 33 weekly junior wheelchair tennis players since 2015/16
• Thirty-seven new wheelchair development coaches
• Twenty new sport wheelchairs have been purchased to be a part of the National Wheelchair Loan Program
• Through tournament and player development, Australia has risen from one to six junior players in the ITF Junior Wheelchair Tennis rankings
• Two Paralympic gold medals at Rio 2016, Australia’s first Paralympic golds in wheelchair tennis since David Hall at Sydney 2000
• Australia has two World Team Cup 2016 champions in Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson
• Australian National Wheelchair Tennis Championships fielded players in all four divisions including men’s, women’s, quads and juniors for the first time in 2016
• Six new wheelchair tennis tournaments and competitions have been developed for the 2016/2017 year.
Tennis Australia’s National Wheelchair Tennis Pathway Manager Alex Jago said: “Identifying and supporting wheelchair tennis coaches is critical to providing engaging environments and positive experiences for participants of all abilities.
“Coaches are integral to ensuring the sport is being delivered successfully and efficiently.
“We believe introducing this new coach network will ensure players from all areas will have access to a qualified wheelchair tennis coach.”
To coincide with the Wheelchair Development Coach launch, Tennis Australia has announced a National Wheelchair Loan Program to increase accessibility for players.
Full story can be found on Tennis Australia’s website.