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Anticipation: Wheelchair Tennis Tournament Coming to Hilton Head

Wheelchair Tennis Tournament

Player at last year’s Wheelchair Tennis Tournament here in Hilton Head. Photo by Dayle Thomas.

If you haven’t seen these amazing athletes play wheelchair tennis before, now’s the time! Mark your calendar for September 9 – 14, 2014 for one of the premier Wheelchair Tennis Tournaments in the country – right here in Hilton Head. The PTR $17,500 Wheelchair Tennis Championships will be held at Chaplin Park Tennis Center and Hilton Head Motorcoach Resort. Pro players from around the world will gather  to compete in men’s and women’s singles and doubles. Plan on catching at least one of the events or matches. Your appreciation for the game of tennis will never be the same.

Anticipation is the Name of the Game

wheelchair tennis tournament

Two of the top players discussing strategy as they anticipate their opponents’ next move.. Photo by Dayle Thomas

I saw my first wheelchair tennis tournament here on the island four years ago at this tournament. Completely stunned by the beauty of the play, I wait with great anticipation every year for the event to return. It is hard for me to explain the feeling of awe I get from seeing not only the strength of the individual players and what they have gone through to get here, but also but the strength of their tennis game. You see, wheelchair tennis is not some lesser version of our able-bodied game. Oh, no. It requires a very strategic use of the court, something an able-bodied game could benefit from. These wheelchair tennis players have anticipation down to a science. Not having the luxury of an extra step or two, they have to know where their opponent is going to hit the ball and plan accordingly. Every time I see them play, I marvel at how they anticipate their opponents every move. I wish I could do that!

Exhibition at Long Cove Club on Tuesday, Sept. 9 at 4:30 pm

Long Cove Club hosts the Hilton Head Pro League Tennis Championships every year and does a wonderful job. This will be a perfect venue for watching the wheelchair exhibition match Tuesday afternoon before the wheelchair tennis tournament players start practicing on Wednesday. Get there early on Tuesday for a good seat and be ready to enjoy some of the best tennis in the world. Two of Hilton Head’s top able-bodied pros (rumored to be Tommy Shimada and Lee Holyoak ) will play with two of the world’s top ranked wheelchair players in an 8-game pro set of Run/Roll doubles. Prepare to be amazed while watching this unique and wonderful event.

wheelchair tennis tournament

The Run/Roll event is one you won’t want to miss. Photo by Dayle Thomas

Run/Roll Event on Wednesday, September 10 at 6 pm

Run/Roll tennis allows players in wheelchairs to partner up with an able-bodied player and compete in a doubles match. The rules are similar to a regular doubles match with the exception that the “Roll” players are allowed to return the ball after two bounces on the court (the first bounce must be inside the lines, the second can be outside). This format creates a challenge for both players, but unites them to become quite a dynamic duo. The event will be held on Wednesday, September 10 from 6 – 9 pm at Chaplin Park. Contact Julie Jilly if you would like to participate: 843-785-7244 or  julie@ptrtennis.org

Main Event Starts Thursday, September 11

Matches start around 9:00 am and run all day. Stop by whenever you can – admission is free. Tournament draws and schedules are posted at the sites and on the USTA website. You will enjoy watching the game of wheelchair tennis and seeing these athletes play in a fast, but very strategic manner. The wheelchair players spin and twirl and travel back and forth across the court, moving very differently than able-bodied players. The ways they move their bodies and chairs to create speed and spin is incredible. Angles are created from way behind the baseline, plus there is the double bounce rule mentioned above. It all combines for fast-paced tennis like you have never seen it before!

wheelchair tennis tournament

If you have always wanted to be a “ball boy”, here’s your chance. Photo by Dayle Thomas.

Ball Persons Needed for the Wheelchair Tennis Tournament

Want to get close up to the action? A great way to do this is to volunteer to be a Ball Person. All ages are need to keep the games moving along with the help of Ball Persons tracking and retrieving balls between points. These volunteers generally work a three-hour shift, with water breaks as needed. A short training session will get you ready for your shift. Mobility is a must for this position, but don’t feel you have to be super fast to help out.

Other Volunteer Opportunities

It takes lots of volunteers to make a Wheelchair Tennis Tournament successful. Please consider lending a hand. Volunteers are needed to help to prepare and serve lunch, prepare home-baked treats, shuttle players and run errands. Cars with a low trunk (not SUV’s) are needed to help pick up and drop off players at the airport. Spectators are always welcomed to watch and cheer!

Wheelchair Tennis Tournament

Phil Cheaney volunteering in the Run/Roll Doubles event at the Wheelchair Tennis Tournament. Photo by Dayle Thomas

Please consider becoming involved. Our tennis friend, Phil Cheaney, has been a long-time volunteer for this event. “It is a real honor to help these players and they are very appreciative. Each player has a different story, but they all share their love of the sport, and their love of life. They are so positive, and it rubs off on you whether helping or watching. One year I worked on the court of a Japanese player and learned how to keep score in Japanese. I didn’t remember Japanese for long, but it was fun to learn. I always come away feeling really good and I look forward with great anticipation to helping each year.” Well said, Phil!

For more information or to volunteer, please contact tournament director Julie Jilly at 843-785-7244 or julie@ptrtennis.org



About the author: Janet Turley is a freelance writer living in Hilton Head. She blogs at janetturleyhiltonhead.com about all the wonderful things to do on the island, including playing tennis. Contact her at janet@janetturleyhiltonhead.com

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