Tennis Australia is expanding its wheelchair tennis development programme to keep up with soaring participation numbers following the success of athletes like triple Paralympic gold medallist Dylan Alcott last year.
The new measures have been developed to not only increase participation but also to 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.
“Coaches play a critical role in promoting wheelchair tennis in their local communities,” said 2016 Paralympian of the Year Alcott.
“Tennis Australia is equipping coaches to create engaging and dynamic environments for wheelchair tennis players.”
Tennis Australia’s National Wheelchair Tennis Pathway Manager Alex Jago believes a focus on coach delivery is pivotal to increasing opportunities for the sport.
“Identifying and supporting wheelchair tennis coaches is critical to providing engaging environments and positive experiences for participants of all abilities,” he said.
“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.
“In the past, players have found it can be challenging to find a tennis club or coach that provides an engaging and fun learning environment. One of our key priorities is to change this view and provide all eligible players with access to a Wheelchair Development Coach within 30 minutes of their home,” Jago added.
To coincide with the Wheelchair Development Coach launch, Tennis Australia has announced a National Wheelchair Loan Programme to increase accessibility for players. Eligible players, coaches and clubs can now apply for the opportunity to access one of 20 sports wheelchairs for participants.
Fast Facts: Wheelchair tennis in the last 12 months –
- Alcott and Heath Davidson won Australia’s first Paralympic gold medals in wheelchair tennis since Sydney 2000, and were both also crowned World Team Cup champions
- Players were fielded in all four divisions at the Australian National Wheelchair Tennis Championships for the first time
- The number of weekly junior wheelchair tennis players rose from three to 33, including six who currently feature in the ITF Junior Wheelchair Tennis rankings
- 37 new wheelchair tennis development coaches emerged
- Six new wheelchair tennis tournaments and competitions were developed for the 2016/2017 season.
By Tennis Australia
Photo with thanks to Tennis Australia