A week before the best wheelchair tennis players competed in the annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, some of the tournament’s participants took part in a Wheelchair Tennis Exhibition at Old Westbury Golf and Country Club.
The event gave the club’s members and their children and opportunity to watch the athletes as they competed in drills and match play. The event was put together by Old Westbury CC’s Head Tennis Pro Ron Kahn in conjunction with the Wheelchair Sports Federation.
“Ron Kahn and I felt that the club members and children would enjoy witnessing these athletes who have not let adversity stop them from competing and enjoying the game of tennis,” said Joan Carter, Tennis Professional at Old Westbury, who led many of the drills during the showcase. “It’s a wonderful cause to support.”
The tennis pros from the club as well as the event’s spectators also got the chance to try their hand at wheelchair tennis. Many of them suited up in the chairs to get a first-hand perspective on the amount of work, effort and skill it takes to move around the court and compete in the sport.
“I always look forward to coming here and to events like this in general, because it’s a great way for people to realize how much work it takes to be a wheelchair athlete,” said Joe Mendez, who has been playing wheelchair tennis for about nine years in addition to basketball, lacrosse, softball and other sports. “It takes a lot of work just to move around the chair and then to be handle a racket. It’s a demanding thing. You have to learn how to use the chair first, and the racket comes later.”
Following the on-court play, the spectators got the chance to take part in a Q&A with the wheelchair players to learn more about them and their backgrounds.
“The wheelchair athletes shared their stories to the members which were compelling and inspirational,” added Carter. “For our coaches who took to the wheelchairs and attempted to play tennis, all found the challenge to be quite humbling.
It was a fun day for all the athletes, members and coaches! The spirit and determination was infectious. Old Westbury Golf & CC feels privileged to have hosted the event for the Wheelchair Sports Federation.”