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A new world

Wheelchair Tennis

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Dynamic and graceful, wheelchair tennis made its Paralympic Games debut at Barcelona 1992. In Rio, men and women will compete in individual and doubles competitions, in mixed and single-gender events, with six gold medals up for grabs.
Spectator's Guide - Wheelchair Tennis
  • Wheelchair Tennis

Countries

Athletes

Events

29 100 6

Schedule & Results

Schedule & Results

Wheelchair Tennis

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September18
Date Event Status

About

About

Aim of the game

Using a racket, players must hit the ball over the net into their opponent's half of the court, scoring points if their rival does not manage to return it

Why should you watch this?

If you are a tennis fan, you will love this thrilling version of the sport and be amazed by the ability and agility of the players

International Federation

ITF

Paralympic debut

Barcelona 1992

Rules
  • Bagel

    Bagel

    A term used when a player loses a set 6-0 – to lose 6-0, 6-0 is a 'double bagel'

  • Rally

    Rally

    A lengthy exchange of the ball over the net, this term is also used in other sports, such as volleyball and badminton

  • Volley

    Volley

    A shot in which the player hits the ball back over the net before it bounces – it is usually played from near the net

Impress your friends

  • Wheelchair tennis was created in 1976 by Brad Parks and Jeff Minnenbraker, two wheelchair users from the USA

    Wheelchair tennis was created in 1976 by Brad Parks and Jeff Minnenbraker, two wheelchair users from the USA

  • In 1977, Parks personalised his wheelchair and began promoting the sport with Minnenbraker – by 1980, there were more than 300 players in the USA

    In 1977, Parks personalised his wheelchair and began promoting the sport with Minnenbraker – by 1980, there were more than 300 players in the USA

  • The Wheelchair Tennis Federation was established in 1988 and wheelchair tennis was a demonstration sport at the Seoul Paralympic Games that year

    The Wheelchair Tennis Federation was established in 1988 and wheelchair tennis was a demonstration sport at the Seoul Paralympic Games that year

  • Brad Parks, one of the sport's creators, won a doubles gold medal alongside Randy Snow at the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games

    Brad Parks, one of the sport's creators, won a doubles gold medal alongside Randy Snow at the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games

  • Australian David Hall harnessed the support of his home city at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games to win two medals: singles gold and doubles silver

    Australian David Hall harnessed the support of his home city at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games to win two medals: singles gold and doubles silver

  • Esther Vergeer won a fourth consecutive women's singles title at London 2012 Games – the Dutchwoman was unbeaten in all competitions for more than 10 years

    Esther Vergeer won a fourth consecutive women's singles title at London 2012 Games – the Dutchwoman was unbeaten in all competitions for more than 10 years

  • Japan is strong in the singles competitions, thanks to Shingo Kunieda and Yui Kamiji in the men's and women's events respectively

    Japan is strong in the singles competitions, thanks to Shingo Kunieda and Yui Kamiji in the men's and women's events respectively

  • The Netherlands has won all 12 Paralympic gold medals awarded to date in the women's singles and doubles, with Esther Vergeer leading the charge

    The Netherlands has won all 12 Paralympic gold medals awarded to date in the women's singles and doubles, with Esther Vergeer leading the charge

  • One of the creators of wheelchair tennis, Brad Parks, was an acrobatic skier who suffered a bad accident and developed the sport as part of his rehabilitation

    One of the creators of wheelchair tennis, Brad Parks, was an acrobatic skier who suffered a bad accident and developed the sport as part of his rehabilitation

  • While Olympic tennis players usually put spare balls in their pockets, Paralympic players wedge them into their wheels

    While Olympic tennis players usually put spare balls in their pockets, Paralympic players wedge them into their wheels

  • When a player does not have any points their score is called 'love' – it's nothing to do with romance, but in reference to the egg-like shape of the number 0 – 'l'oeuf' in French

    When a player does not have any points their score is called 'love' – it's nothing to do with romance, but in reference to the egg-like shape of the number 0 – 'l'oeuf' in French

  • Esther Vergeer's unbeaten run – 470 wins between January 2003 and her retirement in 2013 – is the longest in professional sport

    Esther Vergeer's unbeaten run – 470 wins between January 2003 and her retirement in 2013 – is the longest in professional sport

Service

A coin is tossed and the winner can choose if they want to serve or receive first, leaving their opponent to decide which end they start at. If the winner prefers to choose ends, their opponent decides whether to serve or receive first.

The first serve of each game is taken from the right-hand side of the court, with subsequent serves alternating sides. The ball must cross the court (right to left, or left to right) and bounce inside the opponent’s service box.

A player has two attempts to serve on each point: the first is usually faster, the second is generally more conservative – because a ‘double fault’ loses the point.

Wheelchair tennis rules are the same as for Olympic tennis, except for the ball can bounce twice before it is returned.

Scoring

Points

The first point is called 15, the second 30 and the third 40. The player who wins the next point wins the game, but it must be by a two-point margin. If the score is tied at 40-40, it is called ‘deuce’ and a player must win another point, called ‘advantage’, before they can win the game. 

Games

The first player to reach six games – by a margin of at least two games – wins the set. If a set is tied at 5-5, one of the players must win 7-5.

Sets

Matches are contested in the best of three sets. The tie-break is used to decide a set that is tied at 6-6. The first player to reach seven points, by a margin of at least two points, wins the tie-break and set.  

Equipment

The ball is made of rubber and covered by felt hairs, it weighs 56 to 59.4g and has a diameter of 6.5 to 7.3cm. After the two halves have been glued together, a nitrogen tablet is heated until it bursts inside, filling the ball with a gas that makes it bounce.

The frame of the racket is almost always made of carbon materials. Most top players use strings made of natural tripe – the intestines of cows or sheep. The maximum racket length is 73.7cm, maximum width is 31.7cm and average weight is 300g.

Players use sports wheelchairs with wheels adapted for better balance and mobility.

The net must be 1.07m high at the sides of the court, but at the centre of the court it is naturally slightly lower, at 0.914m.

Classification

Open – Players have an impairment affecting one or both legs, but maintain full use of both arms.

Quad – Players have an impairment affecting their playing arm as well as their legs.

Stats

Top Medalists

Men
usa
David Wagner
3 2 1 6
aus
David Hall
1 3 2 6
gbr
Peter Norfolk
2 2 1 5
Women
ned
Esther Vergeer
7 1 0 8
ned
Chantal Vadierendonck
3 1 1 5
ned
Maaike Smit
3 0 1 4

Countries

Athletes

Athletes & Teams

Gender

Gender
Woman 32
Men 68
Women
Men

Age Range

Age Range
Under 15 0
16 - 20 5
21 - 25 21
26 - 30 22
31 - 40 31
Over 40 21
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