Wheelchair Tennis is a sport designed for players with physical disabilities who use a wheelchair. It is based on the traditional game of tennis, but with some modified rules and requirements to accommodate the needs of players in wheelchairs.
The history of Wheelchair Tennis dates back to the 1970s, when US tennis champion Brad Parks suffered an accident and ended up in a wheelchair. Parks and his friends started playing tennis in their wheelchairs and soon the sport became popular. In 1988, Wheelchair Tennis made its Paralympic debut.
Wheelchair Tennis competitions are divided into different categories depending on the nature and degree of the player’s disability. There are currently three categories:
- Quad tennis: for players with impairments to both arms and legs
- Men’s or women’s singles: for players with physical disabilities to one or both legs, singles competition
- Men’s or women’s doubles: for players with physical disabilities on one or both legs, doubles competition
A Wheelchair Tennis match is played in a best-of-three structure. Each set goes up to six games and to win a set, a player must achieve a difference of two games. For example: with a score of 6-4, the match is won, but 6-5 is not. If the games are tied 6-6, a tie-break follows. This means the first player to take two games away from their opponent wins the set.
The game requires speed, agility and accuracy. The main difference from tennis is that in Wheelchair Tennis, the ball is allowed to bounce twice, the second of which may also be outside the court.
Here are some of the other key terms in Wheelchair Tennis:
- An ace: A serve that immediately scores a point, without the opponent having touched the ball
- Foul service: An invalid service
- Deuce: When the score is tied and both players have won at least three points
- A volley: A stroke in which the ball is hit before it hits the ground