New England Players Compete In
National Adaptive Tournament
Andrew Higginbottom, Sports Marketing Intern | December 20, 2018
WESTBOROUGH, MA- Adaptive tennis teams nationwide had the opportunity to show their skill and poise at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, FL. The USTA hosted the inaugural National Adaptive Tennis Tournament from December 14-15, which gave cognitively impaired players the opportunity to partner with non-impaired players in a competitive setting and on a national scale. The teams that were involved in this tournament first had to qualify after competing in a regional adaptive tournament.
Two New England athletes and their partners qualified for the tournament after competing at the regional tournament at the Emilson YMCA in Hanover, MA in October. The athletes who represented New England were Justin Daley and Billy Harris and tennis coach, Jim Lawson, and pro, Sebastian Quintero.
The national tournament was a 16-team doubles format where teams were divided into four brackets of four. ADVERTISEMENT The four groups then competed against each other in timed matches and the winner of each group had the opportunity to play in the finals.
Chantal Roche, Diversity & Inclusion Manager at USTA New England, witnessed the skill that the adaptive players possessed at the qualifying tournament in October and was pleased to see them represent New England at the USTA National Campus.
“It was fascinating to watch the skill level of our adaptive players,” Roche said. “The final match went for a few hours. We are so proud to send two teams down to the National Campus for their adaptive tournament."
Jim Lawson, who was the Tournament Director for the qualifying New England tournament at the Emilson YMCA, is pleased that adaptive tennis and unified sports are getting the recognition it deserves. He was overjoyed when he found out he had the opportunity to play with his partner, 18-year-old Justin Daley, who has an intellectual developmental disability (I/DD).
“I’m glad that it is finally catching on,” Lawson said. “It gives a chance for both players to interact and compete on a level playing field. We hope that next year we even get a stronger show out for the regional tournament and time to prepare for this national tournament.”
Lawson and Daley went on to win their bracket on Sunday. Tennis
After Quintero received the bronze trophy for placing third in the finals, he handed it to his friend Justin Daley.
“The adaptive players are ones that deserve the recognition,” said Lawson.
“It’s all about these talented athletes,” he added. “It’s not about the pros or their unified partners. We play so that these athletes can get the chance to show off their skill and just have fun.”
To learn more about adaptive tennis and the programs that USTA offers, click here.