On the afternoon of May 15th, four outdoor hard courts at the Midlothian Athletic Club were filled with sixteen tennis players on wheelchairs vying for grand prix points. The Midlothian Athletic Club Wheelchair Open was the first tournament in the newly inaugurated Truong Wheelchair Tennis Grand Prix series. The competitors will receive grand prix points for matches played in four series tournaments being played this summer in Richmond, Williamsburg, Fredericksburg, and Wilmington(NC).The division winners will receive prizes at the final event of the series held on the campus of College of William and Mary on the Halloween weekend and have their names engraved on the beautiful Truong Cup. What a treat!! The Truong Rehabilitation Clinic of Fredericksburg, owned and managed by Dr. Anne and Bao Truong, is the series sponsor.
The tournament was kicked off with a run and roll social and silent auction on Friday night and included a player dinner at the Max’s Positive Vibe Café, a not-for-profit restaurant dedicated to great food and training and employing people with disabilities. Karin Korb, a former wheelchair touring pro and Paralympian, was the guest speaker at the dinner.
The tournament was the culmination of a successful first year for the wheelchair tennis program in Richmond, VA. On April 25, 2009, a group of USTA volunteers and USTA VA Tennis staff organized a wheelchair tennis coaches’ workshop. A run and roll exhibition match followed on May 9, 2009, and the first six week clinic started on June 13, 2009 with support and assistance from Sportable, Richmond Adaptive Sports and Recreation, LLC. The clinic now has three certified instructors, visiting instructors and many volunteers and is held at public courts in Byrd Park. Truly a grassroots program, the students range in skill levels and age. Thirteen players participated, and two of the students already played in tournaments. The program was made possible by grants from USTA, USTA MidAtlantic Tennis and Education Foundation, USTA Virginia and Sportable and support from Richmond Tennis Association. Many sponsors contributed immeasurably to the tournament and the program. The program has embarked on a new, expanded coursesupported bya partnership Sportable established with US Paralympics, Inc. The goal of US Paralympics is to develop Paralympic sports programsin 250 American cities by 2012. The Richmond program will be known as Sportable’s wheelchair tennis program in partnership with the USTA family of organizations.