Bristol on the ball: New tennis sessions for the visually impaired

Bristol on the ball: New tennis sessions for the visually impaired

A new tennis taster session for the visually impaired has been launched in Bristol.

The games involve using tennis balls containing bells, so that players with visual impairments can use their hearing to take part.

Helen Abbott, coordinator for Lawn Tennis Association and the Tennis Foundation, is the organiser and hopes to make the sport more accessible in the city.

“We want tennis to be available to everybody… you’ve got to provide something for every person that might want to play, and there’s a surprising number of people that want to play tennis,” she said.

Tennis taster
Tennis taster session for the visually impaired

Helen believes that the initiative fills a gap in the city.

“There was nothing happening in Bristol like this at all really…so I thought if we have a taster session today we can see what happens… I see the value of ensuring that there are opportunities for people to access whatever their ability”.

The first taster took place on December 6 at University of Bristol Coombe Dingle Sports Complex. Her aim is for the sessions to be able to continue throughout the new year, with opportunity to expand.

“We’re hoping that we will eventually have some sort of tennis hub in Bristol for the visually impaired… then maybe we can mix and match with other sports,” she said.

Tennis taster
Tennis taster for the visually impaired

 

Jason Boon, University Tennis Development Officer, thinks that efforts such as this are essential to get more people involved.

“It’s really good to broaden their knowledge and horizon of what sport can offer for them,” he said.

The taster lasted for almost two hours, with one player travelling all the way from Bradford-on-Avon to take part as there is nothing similar in the area.

“It certainly went well with all of them wanting to do more,” she said.

The first day of games were a success, suggesting a positive future for the initiative.

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