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Wheelchair Tennis and the world-class athletes representing Team USA at the Paralympic Games will be viewed by a worldwide audience in the coming years, as the U.S. Olympic Committee and the NBC network have announced a partnership to air Paralympics action from Sochi next year and Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

By USTA.com Staff

Wheelchair Tennis has long been a key component of tennis in the United States, with a thriving tennis population and an international following.

Starting in 2014, more people in more places throughout the U.S. will be able to watch Wheelchair Tennis than ever before.

The Paralympic Games will receive an unprecedented 116 combined hours of coverage in the U.S. over the next two Olympic Games, the International Paralympic Committee has announced. NBC Olympics and the United States Olympic Committee have partnered to acquire the U.S. media rights to the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014, and the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.

"I think it is a great start for USA Paralympics to be getting such notice from NBC," said David Wagner, three-time Paralympic gold medalist. "It speaks to the countless e-mails that American fans have sent to NBC, requesting more coverage. I am excited to see this happen during my time as a player, for sure."

Wheelchair Tennis is featured during the 2016 Summer Games, which will now receive 66 hours of coverage courtesy of NBC and NBC Sports Network. The aim, said IPC President Phillip Craven, is to build on the success of London 2012, which was broadcast to a global audience of 3.8 billion in 115 countries.

The 2016 Paralympic Games are set to be the biggest Paralympics yet, with more than 4,300 athletes competing in 22 sports. 

“We are absolutely delighted to announce this two-Games agreement with NBC and the USOC as it provides more airtime of the Paralympics than ever before in the U.S.,” said Craven. “This is tremendous news for sports fans, too, many of which will be able to watch a Paralympic Games live for the first time. I am sure they will be as captivated and emotionally enthralled as the billions around the world who tuned into London 2012 last summer.”

In addition to the unprecedented U.S. television coverage, the USOC will provide live online coverage of both the Sochi and Rio Paralympic Games at TeamUSA.org. 

“We are thrilled with NBC Olympics’ commitment to growing the Paralympic Movement in the United States,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “With the expanded coverage to be provided  through this NBC and USOC partnership, the competition from the Paralympic Games in both Sochi and Rio and the stories of our country’s best physically disabled and visually impaired athletes will unfold every day and night.”

At London 2012, Team USA featured 227 athletes and guides, including 20 active duty and veteran service members, and finished sixth among all nations with 98 medals won. Top American tennis performers included Wagner, who won a gold medal in the quad doubles competition and a silver in quad singles, as well as Nick Taylor, who teamed with Wagner to earn gold in quad doubles and added a bronze in quad singles.

Information from the U.S. Olympic Committee was used in this report.

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In 1998 the United States Tennis Association assumed responsibility for wheelchair tennis in America from the National Foundation for Wheelchair Tennis. Since then the USTA has become the first National Governing Body of both Olympic and Paralympic tennis governing Paralympics, ParaPan American Games and World Team Cup events.
The USTA remains dedicated to providing top-flight programming and developmental opportunities to wheelchair athletes of all ages and backgrounds willing to learn the sport and have fun.
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