2009 was a great year for Albuquerque and the Four Hills Wheelchair Tennis Club. The Group received substantial community recognition and a member of the group, Bob Pierce, was presented with the Mark Hamman Wheels Award from the Northern New Mexico USTA.
The Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce recognized D’Wayne Begay with the Chamber’s Spirit Award representing his work with wheelchair tennis in the community as well as with other adaptive programs through Carrie Tingley Children’s Hospital and the Muthu Berry Wheelchair Camp.
The Grant received by Southwest Wheelchair Tennis in Albuquerque was used to promote the opportunity of wheelchair tennis throughout the community. The overall participation in the group doubled during the year and with part of the Grant money, 2 tennis chairs were purchased to allow those who have never experienced wheelchair sports to work out with the group on Saturday mornings. In addition to the week-to-week activities, Four Hills Country Club in conjunction with First Community Bank helped sponsor our third annual USTA Wheelchair tennis tournament. Players from California, Colorado and Texas came to play with the local Albuquerque participants for 3 days of fun and tennis. This is a fun tournament and integrates Up/Down play on Friday night with local members playing with Wheelchair Players. The tournament also offered and variety of playing combinations including play with and against the Director of Tennis, D’Wayne Begay, who played competitively with a chair purchased to improve his coaching and training skills.
In September 0f 2008, the UNM sponsored an Exhibition match between Sampras and Querry as a fundraiser for the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital. Part of the Exhibition included and Up/Down Match with two of our players paired with Women Professionals who were in Albuquerque participating in The Coleman Women’s Tournament at Tanoan Country Club. Over 6,000 were in the PIT in Albuquerque to see the exhibition; it was a great experience for everyone.
A portion of the grant was matched by corporate sponsors in Albuquerque to allow us to send Coach Begay to receive his Wheelchair Training Certification in Michigan. Coach Begay’s time and interest cannot be measured as to the value it brings to our group. We hope every organization is fortunate to have someone like D’Wayne working with them and giving so much of their life to wheelchair tennis. Our hopes are to have a 4th Wheelchair tournament in late April or early May of 2010.