On Sunday 23 August sixteen wheelchair tennis players attended the Lee Valley Tennis Centre to participate in Choice International’s grant funded wheelchair day camp. For many of the players this represented their first opportunity to play on court since lockdown halted activities in March. The participants were extremely fortunate to have fantastic coaches, including former GB coaches Stuart Wilkinson, Mark Bullock, and Geraint Richards.
With the participants spread across four indoor courts, each with its own coach, they were able to spend the majority of their time playing and receiving individual coaching. The coaches worked each participant extremely hard, focusing on a range of skills including court movement, reverse backhands, and serving. Mark Bullock highlighted that “the camp provided an opportunity to give players a sense of direction to their game post lockdown.” Nevertheless, there was still time for plenty of fun and healthy competition with each court battling it out in a variety of mini-competitions to win the title of lead court.
Although the tennis was a key part of the day, the camp also gave the participants the opportunity to socialise with their peers and coaches for first time since March, as well as meet new individuals. Manoj Soma, Founder Director of Choice International, said “the aim of this project was to use wheelchair tennis as a means to improve the mental and physical well-being of disabled people in a time where they are feeling vulnerable and isolated.” A point which was further emphasised by one of participants who expressed “how enjoyable it was to be with like-minded individuals doing an activity they love.”
Head Coach Stuart Wilkinson praised the hard work and dedication that the participants showed throughout the day. Manoj and the coaches are hopeful that once the COVID-19 restrictions have been eased further they may be able to replicate similar events in the coming months with even more coaches and participants invited to attend.
For now, interested players have the opportunity to participate in Choice International’s two other Queen’s Club Foundation funded programmes: weekly online wheelchair tennis coaching from Stuart Wilkinson and Mark Bullock, and weekly on court sessions in Newham. If you are interested in learning more about these sessions then please email: firstname.lastname@example.org