Wheelchair & Adaptive Tennis

USTA Midwest offers top-notch programming and improvement opportunities to wheelchair and adaptive athletes of all ages and backgrounds. Visit our National USTA webpage for an overview of wheelchair tennis around the country. Plus, learn about the values and benefits seen with adaptive tennis programs in our Midwest community and beyond. 

Midwest Wheelchair Tennis

Wheelchair tennis is one of the fastest-growing wheelchair sports. There are several active USTA wheelchair tennis programs in the Midwest, giving persons with disabilities the opportunity to participate in activities with their peers and family, both able-bodied and disabled. 


Wheelchair tennis players must have a medically diagnosed mobility-related disability, with a substantial or total loss of function in one or more extremities.  Proficient wheelchair users can play and actively compete against stand-up players. Rules are the same as stand-up tennis except the wheelchair player is allowed two bounces of the ball.

Wheelchair Tennis Information

Wheelchair Tennis Info Night for Players & Parents
Sunday, February 25, 2024, 7 PM EST on ZOOM


Featuring Lynn Bender, Brian Dean & Chris Kelly, USTA Midwest Wheelchair Tennis Committee Members


Parents of junior wheelchair tennis players ages 7-18, get ready for a virtual info night tailored just for you! Join us to explore upcoming wheelchair tennis events, tournaments, camps and play opportunities. Our speakers will provide valuable information, delve into the junior pathway, discuss grants and leave time to answer your questions!


The first 10 parents to register and attend this webinar will receive $100 to support their child’s tennis journey. A drawing will be held for a $500 scholarship to help offset the cost of tennis lessons, camps, tournaments and travel.


Click here to register.

To view upcoming events, visit the USTA Midwest Wheelchair Tennis Facebook group.

Midwest Adaptive Tennis

USTA Midwest adaptive tennis recognizes three main categories: physical conditions or disabilities, developmental/cognitive conditions or disabilities and emotional or social conditions. We believe that everyone should benefit from the game of tennis.

Adaptive Tennis Information

Try Tennis in Southeastern Michigan!

Monday, October 23, 2023

Utica Eisenhower High School

(6500 25 Mile Road, Shelby Township)

The event will move indoors in case of rain.


Sign up for a time-slot below!


3:30-4:15 pm

Train the Trainer: Learn to teach adaptive tennis


4:30-5:30 pm

Adaptive/Cognitive Try-it Clinic


5:45-6:45 pm

Para Standing Try-it Clinic

Wheelchair Try-it Clinic


To view upcoming events, visit the USTA Midwest Adaptive Tennis Facebook group.

Adaptive Classifications

Teaching Tennis: Players with Emotional/Social Conditions or Disabilities


What are Emotional/Social Conditions or Disabilities?

This category includes individuals who may be in foster homes, substance abuse recovery, or other programs utilizing mental health services. Some combination of the following characteristics typify this type of disability: aggressive behavior, mood swings, thinking impairment, lack of self confidence (self-esteem), feelings of inadequacy, hypersensitivity, depression and anxiety.

Emotional or psychiatric disabilities are deviations from age-specific behavior that significantly impede an individual’s ability to respond appropriately to other people or situations. 


When teaching tennis to players who fall into this category:

  • Maintain a high degree of structure and control.
  • Use words and signs of praise frequently to bolster self-esteem.
  • Use activities that encourage social contact.
  • Be flexible about participatiion, as mood swings are frequent.
  • Reward attentive students with praise and leadership roles.
  • Focus on cooperation, waiting one's turn, good sportsmanship, and respect for peers and instructors.
  • Do activities that encourage positive partnerships and socialization.
  • Keep the class moving.

USTA Midwest programs for players with emotional/social conditions or disabilities:


First Service Doubles - a new tennis game from the Midwest


Play tennis alongside your canine best friend with First Service Doubles! This innovative tennis game is designed for military or active duty Veterans and First Responders who experience invisible injuries such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and their support dog.


Learn more about First Service Doubles below.

Teaching Tennis: Players with Developmental/Intellectual Conditions or Disabilities


What are Developmental/Intellectual Conditions or Disabilities?

This category of disability includes individuals with learning disabilities, epilepsy, autism, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, and cognitive impairments. Typical characteristics may include a slower rate of learning, difficulty with reasoning, poor memory, a short attention span, hyperactivity, social immaturity, perceptual deficits, and problems with agility and movement.


When teaching tennis to players who fall into this category:

  • Establish a routine and stick to it.
  • Demonstrate activities (e.g. Shadow Drills); keep verbal instructions simple and consistent.
  • Provide constant repetition and routines (review, review, review).
  • Keep lines short (don't have people standing around doing nothing).
  • Feed students three to five balls during each turn.
  • Be generous with praise. 



Teaching Tennis: Players With Physical Conditions or Disabilities and Sensory Impairments


What are Physical Conditions or Disabilities and Sensory Impairments?

This category includes, but is not limited to, individuals with physical disabilities and sensory impairments. This includes but is not limited to individuals with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, hemiplegia, arthritis, limb differences, cerebral palsy, amputations and hearing and visual impairments.


Physical symptoms vary considerably from one condition to the other in this category, but are often characterized either by some degree of muscular, skeletal, or joint impairments that may affect mobility. Balance, motion, stamina and language difficulties are frequent characteristics of this category. 


When teaching tennis to players who fall into this category: 

  • Emphasize appropriate warm-ups and stretches.
  • Encourage students to go beyond what they think is possible.
  • Plan sufficient rest periods.


In addition, when teaching tennis to individuals with sensory impairments (hearing or vision):

  • Always face players when talking to them or demonstrating something.
  • For the visually impaired, demonstrate activities using tactile components and write in large, bold letters when using a chalkboard/whiteboard.
  • For the hearing impaired, watch your rate of speech and demonstrate all activities.
  • Use activities that enchance balance skills, such as footwork drills.
  • Use activities to foster communication skills.


What are some optional adaptations in Adaptive Standing Tennis?

  • Use of adaptive equipment, such as a prosthetic, an orthotic or brace/crutch.
  • A change in rules such as two bounces allowed.
  • The use of a smaller court or larger balls for those with more mobility concerns.
  • A change in the length of the match to a shortened format.
  • Note: Many adaptive standing players play with no modifications to the game. Many train and compete against players who do not have disabilities. Now, you can do both.



First Service Doubles

First Service Doubles - a tennis game from the Midwest

Play tennis alongside your canine best friend with First Service Doubles! This innovative tennis game is designed for Veterans, First Responders and Adults 18+ with invisible injuries such as Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Anxiety, Seizure, Diabetes, etc. and their support dog. Service, Therapy, Sporting and any well-trained dog is welcome.


Participants play tennis with their opponents and engage their canine partner with a variety of commands. Good times are had by all!


Why you should try First Service Doubles:

  • Play tennis in a safe environment
  • Have fun while training your service dog
  • Enjoy great exercise for both player and dog
First Service Doubles Programs


Game details

Any dog may be used as long as it meets the minimum requirements of American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen. Orange balls will be utilized initially with a 60' court. Game may progress to a 78' (full size) as skills progress. Commands will be specific to each team (athlete and dog).




  • The dog-athletes must already have a desire to chase and catch a ball. If not, this might not be the best game for them
  • The dog-athlete must be able to focus on the handler without being distracted by other dogs, people or noises.
  • The dog-athlete must not be frightened easily by new distractions.
  • Dog may be leashed (10-12 ft. length) for a session.
  • If a dog displays growling, snapping or other behavior intended to keep other dogs or people away from a “resource” like foods, treats, toys or even people, the athletes will NOT be permitted to participate in First Service Doubles.



  • The human-athlete must always have verbal control over the dog-athlete. Both hands of the human will be busy holding a tennis racquet and balls requiring the use of voice-only commands.

USTA Midwest is hosting introductory programs for First Service Doubles (FSD). FSD is designed for Veterans, First Responders and Adults 18+ with invisible injuries such as Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Anxiety, Seizure, Diabetes, etc. and their support dog. Service, Therapy, Sporting and any well-trained dog is welcome.

Find the latest events by visiting our Facebook page.

Have questions about adaptive or wheelchair tennis programs? Contact Zoy Brown at zoy@midwest.usta.com.



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