Roll with it Monthly:
Air Capital Camp
September 25, 2017
As a regular feature in Roll With It Monthly, we look back at tournaments, camps and events that are making a difference. This month's profile is on the Air Capital Wheelchair Camp and Tournament held May 17-21 in Whichita, Kan.
About the Air Capital Wheelchair Camp
Wheelchair Sports Inc. has been in existence for 20 years and serves Wichita and South Central Kansas. Originally started as a not-for-profit organization to promote wheelchair tennis in the region, it has since expanded into hand cycling and other adapted sports.
Since its inception, Wheelchair Sports has hosted five wheelchair tennis camps and 19 wheelchair tennis tournaments. For the last nine years, each tournament has been accompanied by a camp that takes place every other year. This combined event is unique to the wheelchair tennis world, as most programs either offer a camp or tournament but not back-to-back events. ADVERTISEMENT
Each year, USTA Wheelchair national coaches and other coaches skilled in teaching wheelchair tennis attend the camp as instructors. Over the years, participants have represented more than 20 different states.
This year, on May 17, a special tennis camp was held for 12 kids between ages 6-13. A few of the participants had only been using a wheelchair for a couple of months in order to help them become more mobile and participate in new sports.
To help coach this special clinic, three experienced wheelchair tennis players worked with the kids: Nick Taylor, Paralympic gold medalist; Casey Ratzlaff, the current No. 1-ranked American wheelchair tennis player; and Dave Eads, US Open wheelchair player.
Taylor, Ratzlaff and Eads taught the kids new mobility skills, tennis strokes and, most of all, how to have fun with tennis. Parents were excited to see their kids play a new sport and actively participated by helping to pick up balls and encouraging the campers.
Since the camp launched, lessons have been held on Wednesday nights, averaging six to eight kids per lesson.
Taylor and Grady Landrum have been the catalysts behind this stalwart event. They hope to continue developing the current players and have scheduled six more weeks of lessons with them.
“None of this would be possible without the assistance of the National USTA Grassroots Grants, our USTA Missouri Valley and Kansas district staff and financial support,” said Taylor. “These grants and supporting organizations allowed us to put on this five day event at a cost of $200 per player which covered food, lodging, courts and shirts.”