We are proud to have celebrated our 3rd Annual Wheelchair Tennis Open in the Midwest section which was held on June 5 and 6, taking place at the Indiana/Purdue Campus of Fort Wayne with Eric Burns, IPFW Men and Women’s Head Tennis Coach, acting as the tournament director. We had 19 participants this year, nearly doubling our entries from last year. The players that arrived on Friday were able to attend a Fort Wayne ‘Tin Caps’ baseball game with fireworks included after the game.
We ran into some rain on Saturday so we were able to move indoors using Pine Ridge Racquet Club. A hospitality dinner was held at Turnstone on Saturday evening for players and family members. This event is partially sponsored by Dr. Rudy Kachmann, a Fort Wayne neurosurgeon. Dr. Kachmann, an avid tennis player himself became interested in wheelchair tennis a few years ago after he observed a wheelchair tournament while vacationing in Hilton Head. (For most of us that are familiar, home of the famous Hilton Head PTR Wheelchair Championships).
In August, we hosted the first ‘Three Rivers Up/Down Tournament’, partnering with Wildwood Racquet Club. Matt Schrader, USRA Master Racquet Technician/USPTA Wheelchair Certified coach directed this tournament and has been volunteering his time to provide instructional lessons for wheelchair tennis players since the spring of 2009. Although we set a lofty goal to register 24 players/12 teams for this tournament, we held the tournament with 6 teams and 12 participants for our first year! We hope to make this an annual event and anticipate it will grow with the significant growth of wheelchair tennis players in the Midwest and providing more opportunities for players.
The grant money received from the USTA allowed us to provide the hospitality dinner for the June tournament and to cover the costs of a tent rental, accessible port a john, drinks and snacks as well as prizes for the Up/Down Tournament.
Overall in the past year, the number of our local players has increased and we now have 6 players from the FW area who are regularly playing tennis and competing in tournaments. We were also able to host tennis lessons in the spring which helped the program to grow in numbers. Hosting tournaments gives our local players the motivation to work harder at their game, especially the players who have not competed before. It also provides the players and families to meet other athletes to network and support each other. We are very fortunate to have the support from our community and especially Eric, Matt, Dr Kachmann and IPFW. Their involvement supports the mission at Turnstone which is ‘To enhance the lives of all persons with disabilities and their families’. We plan to host both of these tournaments next year and to continue to promote this sport throughout Northeast Indiana.