The British summertime just wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for Wimbledon fever taking over and opening up the world of Tennis to the nation. For Tees Valley Sound Tennis, Wimbledon is a fantastic event that helps to raise the profile of the sport for anyone with a visual impairment and shows that everyone can take part and enjoy tennis.
Tees Valley Sound Tennis were crowned ‘Outstanding Club of the Year’ at the 2018 North East Disability Awards and this year marks their 5th anniversary. The club, who are based at Splash in Stockton-on-Tees, have introduced many blind or partially sighted people to the joys of playing tennis and have grown participation numbers significantly over the years.
David Donnelly, Club Chairperson, explained “Living with a visual impairment can be very challenging and for those who may be impacted by sight loss later in life it can often be difficult to adjust. We offer a friendly and social environment where anyone can come along and enjoy playing sport. We provide coaching to develop skills and have members who compete at a national level. It is our mission to raise awareness of the sport and provide a welcoming environment for people to get involved.”
Leon Jones, Managing Director of Tees Active who manages leisure facilities in Stockton including Splash, added “Sound Tennis is one of the fastest growing disability sports and it’s fantastic to see the impact it is having on people’s lives locally and nationally. Not only does it encourage those who might have thought they couldn’t take part in physical activity or struggled to keep active previously, it is helping to create new friendships and build confidence.”
Sound Tennis uses a shorter racket, lower nets and a very light, pellet-filled foam ball that creates a rattling sound as it bounces. Depending on a player’s degree of sight loss they may have between one and three bounces of the ball before returning it back to their opponent. Competitions take place across four sight categories, B1 to B4/B5 – with B1 players having the greatest degree of sight loss.
Tees Valley Sound Tennis meets every Friday at Splash leisure centre in Stockton-on-Tees between 15:00 – 17:00pm and offers the first session free for new visitors. The club will also be taking part in a sponsored cycle ride covering the distance to Wimbledon to raise funds for the club. For more information on how to get involved please contact David Donnelly, Club Chairperson on 07540 853157 or Stockton Splash on 01642 660610.
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