Paralympians lend support to find wheelchair tennis stars

4th July 2014

Paralympic bronze medallist Jordanne Whiley is today backing a new Ticket2Tokyo Talent ID campaign aimed at finding a new generation of wheelchair tennis players to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Run by the Tennis Foundation, with support from UK Sport, the British Paralympic Association and the Lawn Tennis Association, Ticket2Tokyo aims to attract potential athletes across the country to find those with the desire and dedication to train to become elite athletes and compete for ParalympicsGB.

The campaign aims to build on the success of the British wheelchair tennis team at London 2012, where ten players qualified to represent their country winning a silver medal in the quad doubles and a bronze in the women’s doubles.

Supporting the initiative is London 2012 medallist Whiley, who kicks off her doubles campaign at Wimbledon today aiming to win her third Grand Slam title in a row after partnering Japanese partner Yui Kamiji to victory at the Australian and French Opens earlier this year.

“I’ve played wheelchair tennis since I was three years old and it’s given me the most amazing opportunities to travel the world and play on a professional tour, including at all the Grand Slams. But everyone on the performance programme has different disabilities and came into the sport in different ways and I think that’s the beauty of wheelchair tennis so I really hope people come and give it a go.”

Also lending her backing to Ticket2Tokyo is Paralympic legend and Tennis Foundation Trustee Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

“Tennis is a fantastic sport as it’s great fun to play and keeps you fit and healthy so I’d really encourage disabled people give wheelchair tennis a go at one of the Tennis Foundation’s Festivals and you might even end up representing your country at the Paralympics one day.”

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of the British Paralympic Association, said: “I’d encourage anyone who is curious about playing wheelchair tennis to sign up and begin their journey into the sport through the Ticket2Tokyo campaign.

“Wheelchair tennis is a great sport that provides so many opportunities for athletes to establish a future in disability sport. As the Paralympics become even more competitive, it is also essential that we find new talent who can shine on the world stage and help to fly the flag for ParalympicsGB.”

Jayne Ellis, Senior Paralympic Pathway Scientist for UK Sport added: “We would encourage any sporty and determined individuals with an impairment to sign up to Ticket2Tokyo. Wheelchair tennis is an exciting, challenging and tactical sport that has a great performance programme to support players with commitment, dedication and determination to achieve their ambitions in Tokyo 2020.”

The Tennis Foundation’s performance team are looking for sporty and active individuals that have the capacity to develop skill under the guidance of elite level coaches in a world class training environment.

And they encourage everyone to have fun trying tennis, whether with a spinal injury or an amputation, cerebral palsy or brittle bones. No previous tennis experience is necessary and anyone with a medically diagnosed permanent mobility disability is eligible to play wheelchair tennis competitively, even if a chair isn’t used in everyday life.

Twelve talent ID festivals will be held over the weekend of 20th and 21st September in the following Disability Tennis Networks: Glasgow, Preston, Leeds, Wrexham, Telford, Loughborough, Gloucester, Swansea, Norwich, Welwyn Garden City, Sutton and Taunton.