Wheelchair tennis was created in 1976 by American Brad Parks. Parks didn’t just invent wheelchair tennis -- he also won gold the first year tennis became a medal sport, in Barcelona 1992.
Tennis is played on a standard-sized court and follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis, with one exception: the ball is allowed to bounce twice before a return serve, and one bounce can be outside the lines.
All athletes play in wheelchairs specially designed to turn and pivot, giving them remarkable agility and speed. The chair is considered part of the athlete’s body, so contact rules for the athlete apply to the chair as well. Wheelchair tennis players use standard, regulation-size rackets.
The winner of the match is the first side to win two sets. This fast-paced sport can be played in singles or doubles, for men and women, as well as “mixed” events, also called “quad tennis,” which are open to athletes with quadriplegia, or little to no control of three or four limbs.
Tennis is highly popular, with four major international tournaments, the “Super Series,” taking place around the globe: Australia, Britain, Japan, and the U.S. 10,500 spectators are expected for the London wheelchair tennis games.
• In 2008, Americans David Wagner and Nick Taylor won gold for the Mixed Doubles event. Wagner won bronze in Mixed Singles as well.
• The Netherlands won two of six wheelchair tennis events, making them the team to beat in 2012.
Paralympics 2012 Competition: Sept. 1 – Sept. 8
Tennis is open to all athletes who have permanent, substantial or total loss of function in one or both legs. Athletes competing in wheelchair tennis may have amputations or limb loss, spinal cord injuries, or other permanent disability in one or both legs. These players compete in the “open” class.
Athletes who have disability in their legs plus disability in one or both arms use a wheelchair to play in the “quad” or “mixed” class. Quad players can use rackets taped to the hand, and can use electric wheelchairs.