How Chris’s new chair had such a big impact on his tennis.
Chris Overend first tried wheelchair tennis at Portsmouth Tennis Centre, in one of the sports chairs they had there. He had been invited to hit with Rob Cross, an LTA Talent Coach, and another player Steve. Near the end of the session Steve offered that Chris try out his tennis wheelchair. The difference it made was immense and really caught Rob’s attention!
Chris was subsequently asked to join a development programme with the then Tennis Foundation (now integrated into the LTA). Chris was loaned a chair by GEM sports, which was not specifically fitted for him. During the 6 months that Chris used this chair he experienced severe pain in his shoulder and hip after an hour or so of playing, so much so that at one of the development programme camps he had to sit out half the day due to the pain. Chris then heard about the Dan Maskell Tennis Trust and applied straight away for a grant towards a chair of his own, fitted with his body in mind.
Chris tells me how easy he found the whole process of applying for a grant. There wasn’t any of the confusing paperwork that is sometimes required, and Gilly contacted him very quickly after receiving his application. Chris soon got his new wheelchair and used it for the first time at the Wheelchair National Championships! Having a chair that fit properly and was his to take wherever he needed allowed Chris to play more and more tennis, training regularly and entering competitions. One of the things that Chris says has had the biggest impact on him is all the friendly people he has met through playing wheelchair tennis. At the start he sometimes felt out of his depth, but everyone he met along the way; players, coaches and organisers made him feel welcome and provided him with a strong sense of camaraderie, something that is so special about sport.
Wheelchair tennis has had a positive impact on all areas of Chris’s life, not just physically but mentally and socially. Being able to meet and talk with other players has helped Chris immensely. But tennis is an expensive sport, especially when you need to buy a sports chair to play in so Chris says that thanks to DMTT he and many others could continue to play, something he is really grateful for.