PARALYMPICS / Paralympic Sports

Wheelchair Tennis

Updated: 2008-08-29 16:03



Wheelchair Tennis appeared for the first time on the Paralympic Programme in Barcelona in 1992. It originated from the USA in the 1970s and continues to develop a strong following of players and fans internationally. The game follows able-bodied Tennis rules and athletes must have high levels of skill, fitness and strategy. The only difference in Wheelchair Tennis competitions is that the ball is allowed to bounce two times - the first bounce being within the bounds of the court.

Athletes must have a permanent substantial or total loss of function in one or both legs. For the quad division the eligibility criteria require that a player has a disability in three or more limbs. The events are singles (between two players) and doubles (between two pairs). The winner of a match is the first athlete or pair to win two sets. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is the governing body for Wheelchair Tennis. In 2006, Wheelchair Tennis is practiced by athletes in over 70 countries.

A Wheelchair Tennis match is played between two (singles) or four athletes (doubles) with loss of motor function in one or both lower extremities. There is a special class for quadriplegics (quads), or athletes with loss of motor function in the lower extremities and functional disability or amputation in the upper extremities. The Paralympic Games Wheelchair Tennis consists of six events:

Men's singles

Women's singles

Men's doubles

Women's doubles

Quads singles

Quads doubles

The aim in Wheelchair Tennis is to hit the ball with one's racket so that it crosses over the net and lands on the opponent's court.

The game of Wheelchair Tennis follows the ITF Rules of Tennis with a few exceptions:

a) The Wheelchair Tennis player is allowed two bounces of the ball. The player must return the ball before it hits the ground a third time. The second bounce can be either in or out of the court boundaries.

b) The wheelchair is considered part of the body and all applicable rules, which apply to a player's body, shall apply to the wheelchair.

The winner is the player or pair to win two sets (best-of-three set match). To win a set an athlete or pair must win six games, with a tie-break employed at 6:6.

(Credit: IPC. Click here for further information.)

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