The ITF Futures Kamloops Legacy Wheelchair Tennis Tournament starts this Friday as athletes from across the world will compete for the title and valuable points on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour at the Kamloops Tennis Centre.
Whether you’re new to wheelchair tennis or a longtime fan, there’s something for every kind of fan!
Standing or Sitting, It’s Still Tennis
If you’re new to the world of para sports, Wheelchair Tennis is one of the easiest sports to watch for the first time and understand. It’s played on the same court with only a couple differences from the standing/running game which we’ll explain below.
The first is a rule. In Wheelchair Tennis the ball can bounce two times before being hit as opposed to only once in the standing game.
The second and most obvious difference is the equipment. Wheelchair Tennis is played using specialized tennis chairs designed for improved speed, balance and agility. Athletes can’t move laterally, but new fans will be surprised by how quickly they can push and turn to get to and hit a ball all while holding a tennis racket.
Do yourself a favor and come see the speed, skill and strength for yourself from July 8-10. Admission is free, though spectators are encouraged to bring their own chairs to sit and watch.
Cheer on the Canadian Crew
Looking for a local connection to the sport? 4 BC athletes will be competing in the Men’s Division headlined by reigning National and defending Tournament Champion Thomas Venos.
The 23-year-old is the top ranked Canadian in the field and has got off to a strong start to the summer season. He advanced to the final at the ITF Futures Saint-Hyacinthe Open in June and is looking to build upon that result against a tough field in Kamloops.
Mission’s Barry Henderson is another BC athlete to look out for. A national silver medalist and member of Tennis Canada High-Performance program. Barry recently reached the final at the ITF Futures Janco Steel Classic in Grimsby, Ontario.
Mark Hansen-Bukata and Patrick Levis are all in their first year on tour and are gaining valuable experience as they move forward in their wheelchair tennis careers. Hansen-Bukata recently made the consolation final in Saint-Hyacinthe while Levis picked up his first international victory in Grimsby.
While there are no BC athletes competing in this year’s Women’s Division. Three Canadians are competing in Kamloops. Anne Marie-Dolinar, Candice Combdon and Natalie Lanucha are all set to take on each other and opponents from Japan and the United States.
With 5 countries represented, this year’s Kamloops tournament has a real global appeal. Keep an eye out Japan’s Shiori Funamizu; the world #14-ranked woman has won several tournaments in her career and was the #1 ranked girl in the world during her junior days.
On the men’s side, keep an eye out for Paralympian Takashi Sanada of Japan. The world #33 has been racking up wins on the Canadian series of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour and is one of the most experienced competitors at this year’s event.
Israel’s Guy Sasson and USA’s Casey Ratzlaff are two more Paralympians to watch out for in the Men’s Division. Both athletes have Paralympic and World Team Cup experience plus multiple ITF Futures titles to their names.
The ITF Futures Kamloops Legacy Wheelchair Tennis Tournament gives you the opportunity to watch international wheelchair stars live right in Kamloops.
We’re always looking for more people to get involved with the incredible sport. To learn more about Wheelchair Tennis in BC, please contact Program Manager Michelle McDonell at [email protected]