An absolute Ace
USTA Adaptive Tennis Committee | March 1, 2019
In December 2018, athletes gathered from all corners of the country to compete in the First Annual USTA National Adaptive Tennis Championship at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. Unified doubles teams from New England, Middle States, Texas, Florida, Missouri Valley, Northern California, Mid West and Southern had all advanced through their respective national qualifier events to be eligible to vie for the title. Unified doubles partnerships typically include one player with and one without disabilities playing together, and is often a format of competition in Special Olympics.
“I am not sure who had more fun over the weekend: the athletes, unified partners, spectators or the tournament committee, but I am sure that there is a need to have more tournaments like this one,” said Cindy Benzon, Texas TSR and USTA Texas Adaptive/Wheelchair Coordinator. “The sportsmanship and camaraderie were incredible, and everyone competed hard on the court. ADVERTISEMENT But once the match was over, it was all about making new friendships.”
USTA National staff members D.A. Abrams and Bill Leong welcomed the 16 doubles teams and their cheer squads on Friday evening with a wonderful buffet dinner on campus. The teams were divided into four flights and competed in a round-robin format on Saturday, followed by dinner at the T-Rex Café at Disney World.
For Sunday’s competition, all the first-place teams from the previous day were put into the top flight. All of the number two teams were placed together and so forth. The competition was intense, but the sportsmanship was even better.
Pat Welsh, unified partner for Lauren McCormac of Middle States, said, “I had a wonderful time participating in the Adaptive Tennis Tournament. It was well organized, the national campus was a perfect setting, and the staff could not have been nicer or more professional. The tennis was high level and extremely competitive, and I was very proud of how well my partner Lauren played.”
The top four winning teams from the 2018 event were:
1. Brittany Tagliereni and Liam Gomez (Florida)
2. Michael O’Connell and John Patch (Texas)
3. Billy Harris and Sebastian Quintero (New England)
4. Matt and Dan Matur (Texas)
Because of the success of the 2018 Championship, the National Adaptive Committee is now planning the 2019 event which will return to the USTA National Campus next fall.
For more information on how to qualify, contact the Adaptive Coordinator at your USTA Sectional Office. For the list of their names, click here.