Michigan State University in Lansing MI is excited to get off the ground and running with the help of many of the men’s MSU tennis team players that willingly come out once a week all school year long to donate a couple hours to help teach the local wheelchair tennis group and hit with them. The USTA grant they received has helped boost their program to the next level and plant the seed to take it to the next step. As Gene Orlando states, we have the courts, the facility, the volunteer coaches, now we just need to keep recruiting the players! We have the opposite of what some programs need, the groundwork is laid they are on the hunt for additional players now.
We have partnered with various groups on campus and students in the healthcare field to help us advertise and promote our program. We have been working directly with the Lansing based Clinics, Prosthetic and Orthopedic facilities in Greater Lansing as well as the Lansing Recreation Department to help recruit potential athletes as well as gain community support, and potential volunteers and sponsors. We were well received and it has certainly has raised the awareness level in our community of our growing wheelchair tennis program.
We have added 3 new players to our team since January. Our numbers at each practice have been up and down but at the very minimum two players each week and as high as six. We work closely with the Grand Rapids based program an hour away and they send advanced players over to help work with our newer players as well. Mike Smith, a veteran of the MSU Lansing based program who has played tennis for over 20 years has said it’s great to see the program get off the ground again with enthusiasm. Mike is a local supporter and goes out to as many practices as he can and competes every year in the Grand Rapids tournament where he can reunite with many friends he’s met over the years. For Mike, this is his one and only outlet that he loves to do and is grateful to see the the hard work that has gone into it.
MSU will be hosting the first ever Michigan State Wheel Chair Tennis Open August 25-26. We hope to reach all the Michigan based players as well as anyone in the Midwest. We are are excited to have a few MSU students participating but we open it up and invite anyone in the greater Lansing based area we are not exclusive to just the University.
As we look ahead to our future, we are excited to partner more with our on campus events and groups and have been in communication with our RCPD (Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities) and we are pursuing adding an elective wheelchair tennis class through our Kinesiology program here at Michigan State University. Not only are we just pursuing new athletes to the sport we are utilizing our students and the university to help grow and educate others about the sport, educate the staff and other students in the healthcare fields.
We look forward to a strong 2nd half of wheelchair tennis and further development of our program. Thanks again for the opportunity to grow and support wheelchair tennis.