New England

Thomas Dodd Spreads Wheelchair Tennis Passion

James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator  |  April 25, 2018

ATTLEBORO, MA- When you think of wheelchair tennis in New England, one name should come to mind. Thomas Dodd. Dodd has been playing wheelchair tennis for the past 10 years and his passion for the sport is contagious. He is the chair of USTA New England’s Wheelchair Committee, is a member of the Adaptive Committee and is the president of South Coast Wheelchair Tennis Foundation, which is responsible for hosting more than 30 wheelchair clinics a year in New England.

He does this all while working a full-time job outside of tennis.

When asked how he balances it all,” Dodd joked, “Very carefully.”

“There are always challenges, but when you love what you do, it definitely makes it easier, and I enjoy anything to do with tennis.”

Dodd has been running wheelchair clinics since 2012, and in 2016 he decided to make it official and start his own Community Tennis Association (CTA). ADVERTISEMENT With the growing demand for wheelchair events, Dodd founded South Coast Wheelchair Tennis Foundation to more effectively promote the product he’s so passionate about.

“It’s important to get word out. There are limited opportunities for people with disabilities in this sport,” Dodd said. “You can’t just go up to a pro anywhere and ask for instructions in wheelchair tennis. We’re trying to make wheelchair tennis more accessible and get pros over the hump to include wheelchair players.”

As part of his CTA, he regularly leads fun, informal clinics at Dartmouth Indoor Tennis Center in Dartmouth, MA, as well as at the Emilson YMCA in Hanover, MA. He has his regular group of players attend plus newcomers and friends, whom he says are important to add to the dynamic of the group.

“If someone with a disability is bringing friends, we get them to play wheelchair tennis. It gets them interested in tennis and helps them understand more about their friend with the disability,” Dodd said.

Dodd’s dream is to spread the word about wheelchair tennis, advance opportunities to several organizations in the area, and provide education about wheelchair players. 

“People come out and first see us playing and see person with disability and say, ‘wow, he’s playing tennis.’ Then once they start playing, they see we’re athletes with a competitive side to us, and see we’re simply athletes that use a wheelchair,” Dodd said.

His passion and advocacy for the wheelchair tennis and tennis in general earned Dodd two 2017 USTA New England Awards. He was honored with the Wheelchair Player of the Year award as well as the Eastern Massachusetts Volunteer of the Year.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Thomas for some time now and his passion to grow the game is clear,” said Chantal Roche, USTA New England Diversity and Inclusion Manager. “Having him involved across the board has been extremely helpful. His enthusiasm for growing the game is refreshing and USTA New England is lucky to have such a dedicated volunteer.”

“It’s nice to be recognized for the work I’ve put in over the years, but I do this because I’m passionate about it and never look to get anything in return,” Dodd said. “I’m just a cog in the wheel and I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing without the help and dedication of so many others.”

As part of Provider Appreciation Month, USTA New England is thanking dedicated tennis providers with web features, giveaways, networking summits and webinars throughout the month of April.

To learn more about South Coast Wheelchair Tennis Foundation, visit their website here.

To learn more about USTA New England’s Provider Appreciation Month, click here.



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