All week, New Jersey has been the place to be.
Nearly 3,500 athletes spent this week competing in the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games around various New Jersey sites, with tennis taking place at the Mercer County Park tennis facility. Tennis action took place Monday through Thursday in divisions that included singles, doubles and unified doubles.
For Tennis Commissioner Nancy Wilkins, the week represented more than a year of hard work.
“We’ve been waiting for this week for a long, long time,” Wilkins said. “The volunteers, players, families and friends all came together and are making this an awesome week of competition.”
The athletes on hand couldn’t have been more appreciative. Whether they were thanking the volunteers or congratulating other athletes around them, the week was loaded with sportsmanship and positivity. From the courts to the award ceremonies, there were nothing but high-fives, hugs and handshakes.
Kylie MacFarland was one of the many keeping that attitude, and showed her appreciation after earning a medal on Wednesday.
“I have to thank my coaches,” she said. “They help me get better every Sunday and every week. Everyone here has been nice and made this fun.”
In addition to the athletes competing at each venue, the 2014 USA Games featured 1,000 coaches, 10,000 volunteers, and approximately 70,000 family and friends who cheered them on.
Since 1961, Eunice Kennedy Shriver (sister of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy) has been pioneering efforts for equality for those with physical and intellectual disabilities. According to Shriver, the Special Olympics give those with disabilities “the chance to play, the chance to compete and the chance to grow.”