Open Court: LTA marks International Day of Disabled People

The LTA marked the UN’s International Day of Disabled People this week by reiterating its commitment to helping disabled people get active and play tennis through its ‘Open Court’ programme.

The governing body of tennis in the UK has been supporting venues to get sessions back up and running following the end of lockdown restrictions in England, and in doing so has been supporting the theme of this year’s International Day (December 3rd) which is ‘Building Back Better: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post Covid-19 world’.

Disabled people have been one of the groups most impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, with fears that they could be ‘left behind’ as the sport and physical activity sector recovers.

But the LTA is aiming for the Open Court programme to provide much-needed opportunities for disabled people to get active, especially through extensive hygiene and social distancing measures.

Furthermore the LTA has equipped a number of Open Court venues with adaptive equipment to enable people to give the sport a go, such as wheelchairs to help movement around the court or tennis balls that make a noise when they bounce to help visually impaired players track them.

Through the Sport England-funded programme, the LTA works with a range of partner organisations and a network of more than 400 venues to provide opportunities to play tennis to people with a range of impairments and long-term health conditions.

As well as supporting clubs and venues to become more inclusive, Open Court provides subsidised sessions for deaf tennis, learning disability tennis, visually impaired tennis and wheelchair tennis, alongside activity to help people with mental health problems and a range of other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Alongside that, the LTA also coordinates a calendar of disability-specific tennis competitions both regionally and nationally across Britain, providing the chance for anyone to compete at an appropriate level for them, whether they are a novice or a seasoned player.

LTA Participation Director Olly Scadgell said: “Great Britain is now regarded as one of the leading nations in the world for disability tennis, and everyone who has played a part in the Open Court programme in any way, whether as a player, coach, official or volunteer, should be rightly proud of that.

“While the Coronavirus pandemic has presented a number of challenges for disabled people, it has been pleasing to see the Government prioritising exemptions for disability sport to allow it take place under all tiers of restrictions.

“In putting a real focus on disability tennis this week we are hoping to encourage more players to feel confident about returning to court once this lockdown period ends, as well as encourage some new players to pick up a racket.”

To find out more about disability tennis and how to get involved visit the LTA website.