Wheelchair Masters Hosts Orlando Schools

Victoria Chiesa | November 22, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Students from Orlando-area schools got a unique educational opportunity this week during the round-robin competition at the NEC Wheelchair Singles Masters and UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters at the USTA National Campus. 


Fourth and fifth grade students from Moss Park Elementary School and special-needs students from Lake Nona High School were hosted for a pair of kids' days on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, during the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour's season-ending championships. 


Upon arrival, students were broken up into groups and rotated around four separate activity stations in two-hour sessions, supervised by USTA coaches and staff. 


These stations included both an able-bodied tennis clinic and a wheelchair tennis clinic, where the students were able to try out a sporting wheelchair; a wheelchair tennis demonstration featuring two-time Paralympian Mackenzie Soldan; and a visit from Canine Companions for Independence, which offered education on assistance dogs and some one-on-one time with a pair of furry friends. 


CCI, a non-profit founded in California in 1975, operates one of its six national training centers about an hour north of the National Campus. That location serves Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, and also operates a central Florida chapter in Orlando that facilitates community engagement and acts as an extension of the center.


After a busy morning of activities and also being treated to lunch, the students later sat courtside and ended their day by watching some of the best wheelchair tennis players in the world up close on the tournament's three match courts. 


"The goal of this is education and awareness of wheelchair tennis, and we got great feedback," said Jason Allen, the USTA's manager for wheelchair and technical, who helped to coordinate the programming. 


"It also gave the teachers and educators an opportunity to work the tournament into their curriculum. Aside from the physical activity, the students wrote the players letters, which helped with their literacy goals."


The National Campus also hosted local students last year when Orlando hosted the singles tournament for the first time, and they returned this year as it became the first venue in six years to host the ITF's wheelchair singles and doubles championships simultaneously. 


With both schools located approximately five miles from the National Campus, the easy access made the events a huge success as 500 students attended in all.


"We knew that the students loved it last year," Allen added, "and this year, the feedback that we got was that it was even better."


The NEC Wheelchair Singles Masters and UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters run at the USTA National Campus until next Tuesday, Nov. 26. For more information, click here



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