Hear from four aspiring wheelchair tennis players on their journeys so far, hopes for the future and how SportsAid support is helping them reach for their dreams.
With the Commonwealth Games the focus of the nation’s sporting attention earlier this month, the events in Birmingham were inspiring for aspiring wheelchair tennis stars Will Barton, McKenzie O’Reilly, Lucas Town and Scarlett Walker, despite tennis not featuring in the Games sports programme.
Like so many of the British medal-winning heroes, these four wheelchair starlets are being supported by the SportsAid programme, after they fell in love with tennis when they played for the first time via the LTA’s Wheelchair Tennis Initiative programme.
SportsAid is a charity which enriches the lives of talented young athletes by recognising and nurturing their abilities through and beyond sport, with the Team England Futures Programme established to better prepare athletes to deliver medal-winning performances as either Team England, Team GB or ParalympicsGB debutants at future games.
The programme enables a diverse cohort of athletes and support staff to recognise how to perform at their best, how to handle pressure and distractions associated with a major Games, and how to make the most of the experience. They experienced first-hand the inspiration and impact of non-disabled and para-athletes competing alongside each other.
Here, the four tennis stars of the future give us their take on the support coming their way courtesy of SportsAid and the LTA:
Will Barton (age 11)
- LTA Wheelchair Performance Pathway: Development Squad.
- Plays at Oxstalls Sports Park
Why did you start playing Wheelchair Tennis and how did you first get involved?
I have always loved sport from a young age and really enjoyed anything that involved a ball. Having a disability means it’s difficult to get involved with a lot of sports. Fortunately, Oxstalls Tennis Centre is near where I live; they had a junior wheelchair session which I gave a go. I was hooked straight away and have been playing ever since.
How has receiving SportsAid funding helped you?