AS recently as two years ago Australia had just three junior wheelchair athletes playing week after week.
While the success of athletes like three-time paralympic champion Dylan Alcott has now seen that number increase to 33, two local coaches want to grow that number after they were selected for a prestigious national program aimed at increasing participation and skill within wheelchair tennis.
East Fremantle’s Jack Baldwin and North Lake’s James Guilfoile are among just 37 coaches from around the country selected for Tennis Australia’s Wheelchair Development Coach Program.
Baldwin said when he heard about how few wheelchair players Australia had, he naturally wanted to help.
“I think it’s extremely important to give everyone the chance to play this game no matter what restrictions you have,” he said.
“It’s more than just hitting a ball over the net, it’s getting outdoors, keeping fit and having a bit of fun.
“Why should wheelchair players miss out? It’s a game for life.”
Guilfoile said as a private coach for a nationally ranked wheelchair tennis player he saw how important it was to grow the sport among wheelchair users.
“It’s very important to open tennis up as an accessible sport for people who use wheelchairs because it helps them develop new friendships, gives them a great workout and enables them to fully participate in a great sport,” he said.
“I would like to develop more juniors and adults in wheelchair tennis to a national standard, and have the opportunity to travel with players to international tournaments.”
Visit www.resulttennis.com.au for information on Baldwin’s program or www.tennis.com.au/jimmystennis for Guilfoile’s.