NEC WC Masters:
A Smashing Success
Erin Maher | December 4, 2018
The USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., was treated to world-class wheelchair tennis in November when it hosted the 2018 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, the marquee event of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
The event featured the top eight men and the top eight women in wheelchair tennis, as well as the top six quad players in the world. The likes of USA’s David Wagner, Japan’s Shingo Kunieda and Diede de Groot of the Netherlands all competed.
It was the second time in six years that the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, which has been held in the United States after Mission Viejo, Calif., staged the prestigious event in 2013. The tournament returns to the U.S. after being held in Great Britain for the last four years and this year’s event celebrated a notable landmark. It was the 25th edition of the tournament.ADVERTISEMENT
The National Campus transformed the show court with bright blue banners and logos to serve as the tournament site. Joanne Wallen, Director of Adult Play and Wheelchair Tennis for the USTA, served as the Tournament Director.
Besides the elite level of tennis on the court, the USTA made sure to promote diversity and inclusion off the court, when they hosted the 2018 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Master Kids’ Day.
Students from Moss Park Elementary School and Lake Nona High School, both in Orlando, stepped onto the USTA National Campus and immediately jumped on the tennis court. Children of all ages and levels of abilities were treated to both regular and adapted tennis clinics run by USTA staff, enabling everyone to get in the game.
Three service dogs from Canine Companions were in attendance, as they and their handlers provided an informational session for students about service dogs. Students were also able to talk to Team USA wheelchair tennis members Chris Herman and Mackenzie Soldan about wheelchair tennis and being a wheelchair athlete. Herman and Soldan also gave the students a first-hand look at wheelchair tennis, demonstrating match play.
In total, there were over 30 matches played over the course of the five-day tournament. Throughout the entirety of the tournament, Team USA coach Paul Walker commentated on all the on-court action through the USTA streaming coverage. Walker was joined by some special guests throughout his broadcasting, including Soldan, and WTA player CiCi Bellis.
Winners from the 2018 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters:
Men’s Singles: Joachim Gerard
Women’s Singles: Diede de Groot
Quad: Dylan Alcott