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Steve Woods organizes wheelchair tennis clinic

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    Steve Woods organizes wheelchair tennis clinic

    Steve Woods organizes wheelchair tennis clinic


    Some Nelson residents are putting a new spin on an old game.

    A wheelchair tennis clinic, organized by Steve Woods, 19, a former ski racer who became quadriplegic after an accident two years ago, was held this weekend at the tennis courts at Granite Pointe golf course.

    "We just thought it would be a good idea to see who would like to try tennis if they haven't before and play more if they have. It's just an opportunity to let people get exposed to it," said Woods

    Woods has been playing wheelchair tennis for about a year and heard about the clinics through the B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association. After contacting them, they agreed to send two coaches to Nelson to teach people to play.

    "There's a tennis section in B.C. Wheelchair Sports, and they had some money and we asked them about doing a tennis camp up here, see who was interested, they thought it was a good idea so they managed to get fundraising for one," Woods said.

    While most people have heard of wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, it seems, is just as popular and is becoming more so each year. The sport started in the U.S. about 25 years ago and has grown dramatically ever since. There are now hundreds of wheelchair tennis tournaments held around the world each year, and it has its own professional league and international rankings. Canadian Sarah Hunter is fifth in the world in the quadriplegic division and was at the weekend clinic.

    "There's so many people that are discovering [wheelchair tennis]. People are realizing it's out there and what a great game it is," said Hunter.

    But before you can reach the professional level, however, you have to learn the basics. Approximately 15 people, some of whom do not require wheelchairs, attended the clinic Saturday. Hunter said she was surprised and impressed by how quickly everyone learned.

    "They did amazing. This group advanced very quickly," Hunter said, "We teach the fundamentals, the forehand, the backhand. We stress mobility and wheelchair skills in the beginning. It's the same sport and a completely integrated game. Wheelchair athletes can play with able-bodied athletes."

    Despite this progress, there are some definite challenges to overcome when playing wheelchair tennis. While the rules are exactly the same as regular tennis - the exception being that the ball is allowed to bounce twice for wheelchair athletes, players must constantly be moving their wheelchair towards the middle of the court in order to have a chance at the next shot.

    Wood's friend, Darren Hinton, 18, who played tennis in a wheelchair for the first time at the clinic, found it harder than regular tennis.

    "You really have to concentrate on wheeling. You have to keep moving the whole time. You have to anticipate more. You can't stand around and watch the [other] player's shot, you have to get to the middle where you're ready to take your next shot," he said.

    This constant motion, however, gives a good workout to all who participate.

    "You get quite a good workout quite quickly. Because compared to normal wheeling, you can just sit there for a bit and coast, whereas with this you're always having to get back in it and push really hard," Woods said.

    More than anything, though, wheelchair tennis is about inclusion.

    "Every level of disability can play. It doesn't matter how much function you have," Hunter said, "A person might have a physical disability that stops them from being able to play able-bodied tennis. If you can't run or you don't have good balance. People who have a stroke are a fine example of that. They can play wheelchair tennis."

    For more information about wheelchair tennis, log onto or


    for posting this Seneca. I need to do this.

    Onward and Upward!