2022 Special Olympics State Tennis Championships Offer Fun For All

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This past weekend, nearly 200 athletes, 50 coaches, and more than 200 volunteers from across the state gathered to compete and participate in the annual Special Olympics State Tennis Championships, held at the USTA National Campus. . The participants showed how much tennis meant to them and that it was not just about winning but having fun while playing this sport.

On every pitch, you could find happiness, joy and laughter. Tournament Director Will Speed ​​mentioned how great it was to see everyone on the courts.

“The energy here is fantastic, you have tons of volunteers, athletes, parents and coaches,” Speed ​​said. “Even though it’s a competition, they’re always there to cheer each other on, bring positivity to the sport and build everyone’s skill level.”

Players ran around the pitch to keep the rally going.

Christopher Vinci just got involved with the game last year and loves playing it. When asked about his favorite part of his participation in the Florida Special Olympicssaid Vinci, “to play with and meet other people”.

Red ball player Daniel Jordan told us that tennis has kept him active and that Special Olympics events are always fun. He’s been competing for 19 years and coming back because “it’s fun, it’s a great workout and great cardio for all athletes of all types.”

Daniel loves the way tennis keeps him active.

Another athlete, Thomas Shervington’s favorite tennis memory, is from the Special Olympics State Games. “Last year I won a gold medal, my first ever in singles tennis,” Thomas recalls.

The environment was all about fun because the outcome of the match didn’t matter, but being able to enjoy competing with other people did.

While these players brought positivity, there were also plenty of coaches and volunteers doing the same.

A coach, Sharon Holloway, recently got involved with Special Olympics Tennis in 2020 and said it was one of the most rewarding things ever.

The players were focused but didn’t forget to have fun.

“After a long day, you come here and it’s fun. Athletes inspire you to push harder because you know they are performing at their best,” Holloway recalls. “I love it, the State Games are one of my favorite things to do because you get to see everyone in their own element.”

Another coach, Tom Shervington, said it’s all about the athletes and making sure they’re ready to succeed. “I’ve taken little kids, who can barely hold a racquet and then you know they’re in state championships,” Tom said. “It’s for the athletes, but it’s actually to make them better, not me.”

Tanya Bartlett has been involved in coaching and volunteering to support her son RaHeem and others who participate in Special Olympics.

Tanya started coaching and volunteering to support her son RaHeem.

“Just being there to cheer them on and watch their faces. Winning or losing is all good sport and I love it,” Bartlett said. As a parent, it can be extremely emotional and she shared how much it means to see her son take part in these events. “Looking at the ability to do things he’s not used to doing, things he’s never done before, and watching his growth.”

Special Olympics has touched many lives and athlete Cyrus Buker had nothing but good to say. “Get involved, it’s a great program, we need more volunteers and more coaches, please get involved.

The game of tennis brings the community together and Will Speed ​​repeated that when thinking back to the tournament. “Tennis is a sport for everyone, no matter your level of ability or disability, tennis is for everyone.”

If you want to learn more about adaptive tennis, visit our website at www.ustaflorida.com/in-the-community/adaptive-and-wheelchair/.


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