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Grand Slam status for Team USA

February 2, 2014 05:07 PM
Team USA made its international debut at the 2014 Australian Championships.
The participants played three to four matches a day, competing in a round-robin, one-set format.
The women from Team USA finished third in doubles.
By Joyce Dreslin, special to USTA.com

A little-known fact about the Australian Open is that since 1998 it has included, along with its junior and wheelchair events, a team competition for elite athletes with intellectual disabilities. And this year for the first time, a team of four U.S. players competed in the Australian Championships.
That team, selected by the Athletes Without Limits organization, consisted of Katherine Richards of Texas, Brittany Tagliareni of Florida, Benjamin Hadden of Ohio and Jonathan Fried of Virginia. Though they didn’t win the event, they went “Down Under” and came up winners just for the experience.

From their arrival at the airport and throughout their two-week stay, the members of Team USA and the other 39 players were treated and accommodated just as if they were seeded players in the main draw: A special bus, a stop at the credential office, a hotel across from the practice courts, playing, touring, bonding, sightseeing, exchanging gifts and even press interviews were arranged.

The participants played three to four matches a day, competing in a round-robin, one set, 7-point tiebreak format at an off-site facility. The winners advanced to the finals, which are held at the main site in Melbourne Park before the women’s final.

The Team USA women came in third in doubles, just missing an opportunity to play on the “real courts,” but all members got to practice on them prior to the championship matches. The competition was stiff with play comparable to 5.0 players. For its first international showing, Team USA felt it did very well.

Team USA’s future goals? Train harder and longer for world-class competition and lobby hard for all Grand Slam events to have an Adaptive event.

Athletes Without Limits
Athletes Without Limits is a national organization that advocates for greater integration of athletes with intellectual disabilities in mainstream sports. It also recruits, supports and develops high performance athletes to represent the U.S. at international competitions. Athletes Without Limits has recently become a member organization of the USTA.

For more information check out www.athleteswithoutlimits.com.
The USTA has developed a database of Adaptive Tennis Programs with the purpose of connecting tennis players with the programs available to meet their tennis needs. Stay informed about grants, events, awards and more. View the complete list of registered programs. If you do not see your program, register now for free.
The USTA National Adaptive Tennis Committee would like to know more about your programs, people and events. This gives recognition to the great work you’re doing and inspires others to provide similar services. Contact us now!


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