© 2008 Quad Doubles Champions
2008 US Paralympic Tennis Team
© 2008 US Paralympic Tennis Team
The 2008 Paralympic Games-Beijing, China
Wheelchair tennis has many great events throughout the world including over 135 international tournaments on the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour. Yet, none is bigger than the Paralympic Games. The United States qualified nine athletes to represent America at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China held just a few weeks after the Olympic Games completed. The American Team was comprised of:
The Paralympic Games offers much more than competition. The US Team was introduced to a new culture that shined brightly from the momentthe Opening Ceremonies kicked-off. Parading in front of a stadium filled to capacity was an amazing experience, but perhaps even more enlightening was the artistry of the performances the Chinese offered during the Opening Ceremonies. It certainly set the tone for an incredible two weeks of competition.
Before the competition started the team had the opportunity to experience even more of the Chinese culture by visiting the Great Wall of China. The Chinese did a phenomenal job of making part of the Great Wall accessible so all of our players could make the climb. Needless to say the amazing experience brought the team together at the perfect time.
The first few days of competition went very well for the US team where only two players lost in the first round. Brent Poppen lost to Johan Andersson (silver medalist) and Paul Moran lost to Ronald Vink. This was the best start possible for the US teams. Rydberg and Welch made it to the round of 16 in the Men’s competition. Rydberg lost to eventual gold medalist Shingo Kunieda and Welch lost to former gold medalist Robin Ammerlaan. Kaitlyn Verfuerth lost to top five in the world Sharon Walraven in the round of 16, but Beth Arnoult played the match of her career defeating Annick Sevenans of Belgium, placing her in the quarterfinals where she lost after a phenomenal tournament.
David Wagner and Nick Taylor continued their dominance in the Quad Division. 2004 Paralympic Doubles champions went into Beijing as the number one seed in doubles and David Wagner went into the Games as the number one seed in singles. Both cruised to the quarterfinals where Nick Taylor had a great win over Bas Van Erp of the Netherlands and David Wagner had an equally great win over Shraga Weinberg of Israel. Taylor had a tough match with Peter Norfolk of Great Britain losing in straight sets, but the surprise of the tournament came when David Wagner lost to Johan Andersson in the semi-finals of the singles competition. This was a heartbreaking loss casting a shadow of doubt for the medal roundsof the following day. Wagner had to play his doubles partner for the bronze medal. In a three set battle Wagner defeated Taylor for the bronze medal. The comeback had to continue for Wagner as they were scheduled to compete for the gold medal in doubles against the team from Israel the same day. The US team started strong winning the first set easily, but the Israelis were not done coming back with a gritty performance in the second set setting up a show down in the third. The US team showed their dominance winning their second consecutive gold medal in doubles 6-0, 4-6, 6-2.
The US team had won two medals already, but they had the chance for a third with Beth Arnoult and Kaitlyn Verfuerth playing for the bronze medal against the team from France. It was a long grueling match, but after three sets of doubles play Florence Gravellier dominated the court pushing the French team over the US duo 5-7, 6-3 6-2.
The US team flew home with two medals, but more important an incredible experience in Beijing. The Chinese volunteers were so kind to all of the delegations and the crowds were overwhelming. The Games were an unforgettable experience and inspiring to all of our wheelchair tennis athletes as we start to prepare for London 2012.
2008 Paralympic Tennis Team
Jon Rydberg-Oakdale, MN
Stephen Welch- Dallas, TX
Beth Arnoult-Paia, HI
Kaitlyn Verfuerth-Rancho Cucamonga, CA
David Wagner-Portland, OR
Nick Taylor-Wichita, KS
Brent Poppen- Paso Robles, CA
Team Leader-David Schobel
Head Coach-Dan James
Assistant Coach-Jason Harnett
The first International Wheelchair Games were held in conjunction with the opening of the London Olympic Games, in 1948.
The final connection between the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games was made in 1960, when the International Stoke Mandeville were held in Rome just a few weeks after the Rome Olympic Games. These Games were organized for Wheelchair athletes only.
Since the 1960 competition, the Paralympic Games have grown to be one of the world’s major sporting events. Athletes from other disability categories have now been included, and today this includes amputees, vision impaired as well as cerebal palsy, along with wheelchair athletes. They compete for a total of 582 medals. In tennis this includes, men’s and women’s competition as well as a Quadriplegic competition. Team USA has produced a total of 10 medals.
The number of athletes has grown from 400 in 1960 to 4,000 that competed in the 2,000 Games in Sydney. This represented 125 countries with 2000 team officials and 1,300 media, 1,000 technical officials and 10,000 volunteers. The 2000 Paralympic Games were bigger than the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
2008 Beijing Paralympics
September 6-17 following the Beijing Summer Olympic Games
The Paralympic Games is an international competition among each nation’s elite athletes with physical disabilities and is second in size only to the Olympic Games.
During the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing, over 400,000 city volunteers will offer their services in the city, in addition to the 100,000 Games-time volunteers who work directly for the Games.
Wheelchair tennis was originated in 1976 by American Brad Parks, and the sport quickly evolved into a major competitive international sport. The sport first appeared at the Paralympic Games in the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics.
Wheelchair tennis is played on a standard tennis court and follows many of the same rules as tennis. However, in wheelchair tennis, a player is allowed to let the ball bounce twice, not once, before hitting a return shot. Also, the athlete’s wheelchair is considered to be a part of the body, so rules applying to the player’s body apply to the chair as well. Paralympic wheelchair tennis competition is open to male and female athletes in the categories for amputees and spinal cord injured/wheelchair.
2008 Selection Procedures
2008 Paralympic Selection Procedures-Athlete
2008 Paralympic Selection Procedures-Coach
2008 Paralympic Selection Procedures-Team Leader