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Utah reaffirms its commitment to wheelchair tennis programs

June 23, 2015 06:27 PM

Tennis provides players with an opportunity for lifetime fitness, friendships and a sense of community. A key part of the mission of the Utah Tennis Association (UTA) is making tennis look like America, so that people of all backgrounds and abilities can reap the benefits of the sport. As part of this mission, UTA has adopted a multi-prong approach that includes both one-time events and ongoing programs targeted at a multitude of diverse populations. Recent programs and events with the wheelchair tennis community exemplify this approach.

Wheelchair tennis has a long and proud history in the state of Utah. The state has been, and continues to be, home to top-ranked national players and award winners, and each spring Utah is host to a prestigious international wheelchair tennis camp. Resting on those laurels, however, is not enough for the staff and many volunteers involved in Utah tennis. Recently, staff expressed a concern that while the program was still strong, they were not seeing many new players joining the community.

To address this concern, staff worked with volunteers to host special events designed to introduce potential new players to wheelchair tennis. Over 20 people attended one of these recent events including both experienced players, brand new players, adults and children. In addition to participating in a series of fun drills and basic instruction, participants received snacks and an opportunity to meet other players and get information about ongoing wheelchair programs in Utah.  

“We were thrilled with the turnout, and the interaction between experienced and new players," said Laurie Lambert, executive director of Utah Tennis Association. "I think we’ll see a few of the new folks begin participating in our regular summer programs and really getting involved in the community and this great sport.” 

This special event also served as an introduction to Utah's summer programs.

During the summer, wheelchair programs are held on two different days of the week – one day for adults and one day for children. Volunteers conduct these programs and keep everyone engaged in the sport. These programs allow players the opportunity to continue to develop their skills and become more involved with the community.

“We’re really hopeful that the players will embrace this sport and community that we all love so much.," Lambert said. 

Another effort of the Utah wheelchair tennis community was the formation of a World Team Tennis team. This team participated in a league against players who were able-bodied. Participation in the league served two purposes. First, it provided the players another opportunity to play tennis. It also provided a valuable opportunity to expose the wider tennis community to wheelchair tennis.

“These tennis players are athletes and tennis players, just like the rest of us," Lambert agreed. "They get two bounces, but everything else is the same. We want the tennis community to see these wheelchair players as the incredible athletes and competitors that they are."

UTA will continue to offer regular one-time special events as well as the weekly wheelchair tennis programs.

For more information, contact Lambert at