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History and Rules

Created in 1976 in California, wheelchair tennis is one of the fastest growing and most challenging of all wheelchair sports. Since 1979, the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis has promoted the sport in the United States. The Wheelchair Tennis Players Association, formed in 1981 under the auspices of the NFWT, allowed players to take an active role in the governance of the sport. January 1998 marked the merger of the WTPA into the USTA structure. Since then, the USTA has actively managed wheelchair tennis activities in the U.S.

A wheelchair tennis player must have a medically diagnosed, permanent mobility-related physical disability, resulting in a substantial or total loss of function in one or more lower extremities. Wheelchair tennis rules are the same as stand-up tennis, except the wheelchair tennis player is allowed two bounces of the ball. The wheelchair is considered part of the body; all applicable rules for stand-up players, which apply to a player’s body, apply to the wheelchair.

Recreational and Competitive Divisions

There are several divisions that identify the levels of play in wheelchair tennis. Wheelchair tennis players play in able-bodied events with two bounces and can be rated according to NTRP characteristics.

Open: This player has intensive training for tournament competition at the national and international levels. Excellent chair mobility

A: This player has good shot anticipation and has redeveloped power and/or consistency as a major weapon. Can vary strategies and styles of play in a competitive situation. Hits dependable shots in a stress situation. Solid chair mobility.

B: This player has begun to master the use of power and spins; is beginning to handle pace and vary game plan according to opponents. Good chair mobility.

C: This player has achieved improved stroke dependability with directional control on moderate shots, but lacks depth and variety. Learning consistent chair mobility.

D: This player is learning to judge where the ball is going although court converge is weak. This player can sustain a short rally of slow pace with players of the same ability. Slow, inconsistent chair mobility.