Grants offer wheelchair tennis a significant boost

For Manning Tennis Club and Tennis Academy Perth, their vision for wheelchair tennis is clear – that anyone in Western Australia, who is interested in trying the sport can easily do so at their local tennis club.

With numerous barriers in place for the sport, realising this vision may well be years away but two separate grants from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) and Paralympics Australia awarded to the Manning Tennis Club will go a long way towards creating new wheelchair tennis opportunities throughout the state.

For Manning Tennis Club’s Captain Dwayne Augustin, the $5,000 grant they received from DLGSC’s Targeted Participation Program and the four new sports wheelchairs from the Paralympics Australia’s para-sport equipment fund are absolute game changers.

“When our Head Coach Mike Gill and the club first came up with the idea of creating a wheelchair tennis program, we didn’t realise how few opportunities there were so our first goal was to hold free weekly come and try sessions to start off with,” Dwayne said.

“As we learnt more and started the program, it was evident how much of a barrier the cost of equipment was for people, with an entry-level sports wheelchair costing several thousand dollars - certainly not a ‘wake up and give it a go’ type of thing.

“With the four new chairs that we will get through Paralympics Australia, it’ll mean we can remove one of the biggest barrier to the game and encourage more people to not only try the game but continue to play it.”

Tennis Academy’s Director and Head Coach Mike Gill said the DLGSC grant would enable the WA Top Spinners, the name of the wheelchair playing group and program, to increase the number of regular sessions that’s in place as well as expand the group’s reach beyond just the Manning Tennis Club.

“Over the past 18 months, it’s been amazing to see our group of players grow from two players to 11 players. While we continue to have our free weekly session on Wednesday mornings at 10am, one of our biggest challenges is being able to cater to players who can’t make those times because of school or work commitments.”