Wheelchair Tennis: What’s Not to Love?

Are you in a wheelchair and want to stay active? Did you know that it is possible to participate in recreational athletics with friends and family while in a wheelchair?  One of the sports you can play together is wheelchair tennis.  And take it from us – there’s a lot to love (pun absolutely intended).

Wheelchair tennis can be played by anyone with a mobility-related physical disability involving the loss of function in at least one of your legs.  There is even a competitive division for individuals who have cervical level injuries. Just like able-bodied tennis, wheelchair tennis can be played in singles or doubles matches. But unlike able-bodied tennis, there are a lot of options:

  • Singles: wheelchair athlete on wheelchair athlete
  • Singles: wheelchair athlete on stand up athlete
  • Doubles: wheelchair athletes on wheelchair athletes
  • Doubles: wheelchair athletes on stand up athletes
  • Doubles: 1 up 1 down (wheelchair athlete and stand up athlete together on both sides)

The rules for wheelchair tennis are very similar to traditional tennis.  The court is the same size and the matches follow the same rules set by the International Tennis Federation, with one exception: the tennis ball is allowed to bounce twice before a return must be made, of which only the first bounce must be within the lines of the court.

Specific wheelchairs used to play tennis are also different from your everyday chair.  The wheelchair tennis chair has larger wheels that are angled to allow for the fast and smooth turns needed for a successful return.  The tennis chair also has two small wheels in the front next to the footrest and one wheel centered in the back for support.  Tennis chairs are lighter, which is important as wheelchair tennis athletes are always moving about the court.

Magee sponsors a wheelchair tennis team called the Magee Freedoms.  Our tennis program holds practices every Sunday at the Cherry Hill Racquet Club, located at 1820 Old Cuthbert Road, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034. So far this year our athletes have competed in tournaments in New York, Virginia, Louisiana, and Texas. Don’t have a wheelchair tennis chair? Don’t worry – as part of our Wheelchair Sports Program, if you want to be on the team, we will make sure you have one.

For more information about wheelchair tennis at Magee, please contact Keith Newerla, Magee’s Wheelchair Sports Program Coordinator, at knewerla@mageerehab.org or 215-587-3412. And if you want to see wheelchair tennis in action (I highly recommend it), check out the video and slideshow below.

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