"Open to all athletes with an impairment..."
Wheelchair Tennis originated in the USA in the 1970s and since then has grown in popularity and status. The sport, which has been included in the Paralympic Games since Barcelona 1992, with the Quad division added at Athens 2004, is open to all athletes with an impairment.
The game is played from a wheelchair with two classes:
- Quad for impairment in arms and legs
- Open for those affected in one or two legs, but not arms or hands
The court size and rules are the same as in the non-disabled game, the only exception being that players are allowed two bounces of the ball – the first being inside the court markings. Competitions comprise singles and doubles for Open men’s, Open women’s, and Quad divisions.
There is a busy schedule of events for elite Wheelchair Tennis players, over 170 tournaments are now on the international tour, six of which are held annually in Great Britain.
Additional information and useful links
History of Wheelchair Tennis
History of Wheelchair Tennis
Wheelchair Tennis was founded in 1976 by Brad Parks and Jeff Minnenbraker in the USA.
Following an accident, which had left him paralysed, Brad read an article about Jeff, who played tennis from a wheelchair. The pair later met and set about playing and promoting the sport across the USA.
In early 1980, the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis (NFWT) was formed with Brad Parks on the board of directors. In 1981 France became the first European nation to participate in the sport and two years later became the venue for the first international wheelchair tennis tournament.
The European Wheelchair Tennis Federation was founded in 1985 and in 1988 the International Wheelchair Tennis Federation was formed, with Brad Parks as the first president.
That same year, at the 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games, wheelchair tennis was included as a demonstration sport before becoming a full medalling sport in 1992 in Barcelona.
The Quad division - for players affected in three or more limbs - made its Paralympic Games debut in Athens in 2004, where Peter Norfolk MBE became Great Britain’s first ever Paralympic Games gold medalist in tennis, winning the quad singles title before partnering Mark Eccleston to silver in the quad doubles.
Wheelchair tennis follows the same rules as non-disabled tennis, with the only exception being that the wheelchair tennis player is allowed two bounces of the ball.
As well as the Paralympic Games wheelchair tennis also has an international tour - the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour - which includes over 170 international tournaments.
National Governing Body
The Tennis Foundation is Great Britain's leading Tennis charity which manages the British Wheelchair Tennis Performance Programmes.
The Tennis Foundation’s vision is a sport which is inclusive and accessible to every kind of community. It works closely with the Lawn Tennis Association and a range of partners from across all sectors to deliver this vision.
The aim of the Tennis Foundation is to provide opportunities to encourage people to both play and enjoy Tennis, as well as to maximise their personal potential through the sport.
Through its focus on education and Tennis for disabled people, it promotes Tennis as an inclusive sport across a wide range of disabilities.