Here are the case studies of wheelchair tennis players receiving a new wheelchair and what this has meant to them (Sarah Bard from Nottingham, pictured above).
Ruairi is 16 years old and comes from Scotland. He has spina bifida. He is now considered one of the most promising juniors in GB – his father Malcolm sends this update:
“Since Ruairi received his new tennis wheelchair it has vastly improved his tennis – he has now achieved UK no 1 status (junior)as well as no 5 world junior. On top of that, he won his first men’s title-futures event in Nottingham-only the 2nd under 18 to win this event in its history.
The new chair has offered Ruairi the chance to face the challenges of top-level wheelchair tennis and meet it head on both physically and mentally. As you will no doubt be aware how important it is to be working with the right equipment at such a crucial time in a young promising athlete’s career.
As Ruairi has now been inducted into the Institute for Sport of Scotland (usually only for athletes over the age of 18) you can appreciate how staff at Sport Scotland will be able to support Ruairi in utilising the advantage of new equipment and how best to use it.
Through tennis, Ruairi’s new chair has brought a new-found confidence in his personal life, with regards to schooling, socialising and success in his sport has brought confidence into his life”.
Lewis is 17 and has cerebral palsy. He has been playing tennis for just over 4 years. He has represented England in the School Games for 3 consecutive years. His grandmother, Sue Llorca sends this update:
“Lewis has had his chair for a year now. It has definitely allowed him to progress much further in wheelchair tennis due to it being tailored to fit him and very light weight. Competing is very important to Lewis and he trains hard for every tournament he can enter on the junior Roma circuit. He has now been classified as a quad player when he goes up to the adults next year, which he is very pleased about.
Obviously competing is not for everyone but Lewis really enjoys meeting up with other wheelchair users at these events. Throughout his school life he has mostly been the only one in a wheelchair, so meeting up with his mates and other disabled people and seeing some that have greater problems than his, men with wives, children and jobs, has given him great confidence.
You learn a lot playing sport, about coping with disappointment, not giving up and having to keep working hard, which Lewis would have missed out on if it weren’t for the tennis. The funding that the Dan Maskell Trust give to people is invaluable and I hope you are able to continue with your great work”.
Christian is 15 and has congenital arthrogryposis (joint contracture in two or more areas of the body). He has been playing wheelchair tennis for just over 2 years. Christian’s mother, Debbie says:
“Since having his own chair to use, Christian has been able to access training at Cardiff as well as Taunton and take part in several competitions last year such as the Nottingham Open, School Games and the Shrewsbury Nationals. He is able to compete in a chair which he is totally comfortable in and for my part not having to worry about returning the loan chair is a big relief. Christian has improved in his skill and play since having his chair, he has also improved in self- confidence on and off the court. He is looking forward to competing again later this year after his GCSE’s for which he is studying hard. He trains each week in Bristol with a coach and a group session in Cardiff so is keeping up with his playing and enjoying tennis”.
Suzanne is 30 and has a spinal cord injury. We have just upgraded her tennis chair with the funds from the Bruce Wake Charitable Trust and she has donated her first chair to the tennis centre at Sutton where she plays, for general use by other wheelchair players.
“I started playing wheelchair tennis 3 years ago, and six months after I first tried it, I received a tennis chair from the Dan Maskell Tennis Trust. This was a complete game changer for my tennis – it allowed me to improve much quicker and play as often as I wanted. I started competing in small tournaments and was soon competing abroad in ITF tournaments. Playing tennis has given me so much more confidence and allowed me to start enjoying life again after my spinal cord injury 8 years ago. I have made so many great friends through tennis, have become fitter and have really enjoyed being able to travel again. I owe so much of this to the support that the DMTT has given me”.
Sarah is 38 and has hereditary motor sensory neuropathy. She has played since September 2016 when she first experienced wheelchair tennis at a Paralympic promotional event. In Sarah’s own words:
“Put simply, it’s changed my life Gilly! Since I’ve been playing wheelchair tennis, I’ve lost over 3 stone in weight. Nottingham tennis centre have supported me by housing the chair there. So, I can use it when needed. And for about 6 months or so I played in all the competitions I could get to.
The exciting news is, motivated by my new court chair from you, but without means to travel to competitions, over this year I’ve had a campaign on Go Fund Me to raise money for a light weight day chair and powered add-on that enables me to get to competitions independently. In December I had raised the full amount (£10,000) and I now have the powered chair! This would never have happened without your support. Being able to show that The Dan Maskell Tennis Trust believed in and supported me gave me a credibility I could never have achieved on my own.
Thank you again so so much. I love being in the chair. It runs so well and feels so good. I feel very privileged that you selected me to have one”