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.”
“At the moment, we’re relying on people to volunteer their time so we can hold after-hours sessions but even then we have to limit numbers to make it manageable. The DLGSC grant of $5,000 combined with the four new chairs will mean we can put in place regular sessions on a Monday evening and get a second coach to increase the number of spots available for those coaching sessions,” Mike said.
In addition to the creation of a second weekly session with more spaces, the WA Top Spinners through the Manning Tennis Club and Tennis Academy Perth is also working with Rebound WA to identify suitable days to run more introductory sessions out near their facility.
The Club is also reaching out to other clubs in Western Australia, and offering to help hosts Come and Try Wheelchair Tennis days down at their clubs in an effort to showcase the sport and provide some guidance to those who would like to do it.
Inaugural WA Top Spinners Wheelchair Tennis Event
As part of the expansion of the program, the WA Top Spinners will also be hosting its first-ever Wheelchair Tennis event on Saturday, 17 April from about 8.30 or 9am at Manning Tennis Club.
A unique event in itself, it will feature a number of wheelchair challenges (enabling anyone to participate or have a go at) as well as a match play component. Everyone is invited to come and have a try, participate in any component of the event and stay on and enjoy a sausage size with other members and hopefully watch some great tennis in the finals.
The State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries is a major supporter of community sport and recreation facilities in Western Australia. Sport and recreation builds stronger, healthier, happier and safer communities. When we play sport our whole community wins.
We are also grateful for the kind and generous support from Paralympics Australia through their para-sport equipment fund and Lucky Nickel Media.
If you would like to try wheelchair tennis or get involved with providing coaching support (you do not need to be a coach), please contact Dwayne Augustin on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0422793941.