One of the most successful tennis tournaments on the east coast this year didn’t have a $40 million purse, and it wasn’t seen by a worldwide audience. As far as experience and impact, though, the Middle States Wheelchair Tennis Championships couldn’t have been better.
Don’t let the word “wheelchair” fool you. There is nothing these players can’t do on the court.
The 2014 tournament, held over the summer at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del. Brought together 29 players from eight states. Not only that, it opened the eyes of various new players, family members, friends and the entire tennis community.
The Delaware tournament is part of a circuit of national USTAsanctioned tournaments. While the tournament is a community event, it is also extremely competitive, with players competing hard for each point, prize money and bragging rights. If you’ve never seen it before, Kathie Herel suggests you get out there.
“It will surprise people,” said Herel, the Director of the Wheelchair Tennis Program of Delaware. “I think people hear the word ‘wheelchair’ before tennis and they put an image in their mind. It is a competitive event and I don’t think people realize how athletic these players are.”
“These athletes want to go out and win,” she added. “It’s fun and friendly, but when it comes down to it, it’s competition.”
The Championships in Delaware are unique in that it is one of the very few tournaments played on Har-Tru courts.
“Athletes love this tournament,” Herel said. “They travel from all over to make a weekend of it.”
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