Halton Tennis Centre hits new heights

Top (L-R) David Hardman, Tom Wood and Ash Smith. Bottom (L-R) Ian Payne and Mark Francis
Top (L-R) David Hardman, Tom Wood and Ash Smith. Bottom (L-R) Ian Payne and Mark Francis

Halton staged its inaugural Inclusive Tennis Festival celebrating the delivery of tennis to more than 170 disabled people across the County and the Paralympic Legacy one year on.

More than 200 people soaked up the summer sun to witness an exhibition match between two professional wheelchair players, Ian Payne and Mark Francis. This was followed by club members and wheelchair players trying our specially designed sports wheelchairs and experiencing what it is like to play tennis with a visual impairment.

Terry McGrath, a life-long supporter of Halton Tennis Centre, said: “What a brilliant afternoon - seeing so many people enjoy fun tennis activities irrespective of whether they are blind, are in a wheelchair, have had a stroke or have learning disabilities is just brilliant. The work Halton is doing to deliver tennis to these people is just inspirational - Alex Barnes our disability coach and Tom Wood, the head of disability tennis, should be very proud of their achievements.”

Children’s tennis included fun games for local youngsters with Learning Disabilities and Down’s Syndrome. A big thank you goes out to all the adult helpers and junior performance players who did a great job ensuring everyone had so much fun. Tom Wood said ‘our aim is to be totally Inclusive with able bodied and disabled players on court together’.

Other activities on the day included fastest serve, Babolat Racket tests, face painting, rowing competitions, tombola,live music from Danny’s Band ‘Lost Minute’ and a demonstration from Halton’s Performance Tennis Players.

Jordan Luce, a 19 year old Frenchman and a top level basketball player, said: “I want to thank you for this amazing day I had at the Tennis Festival. It was great to meet you and have the opportunity to see your exceptional facilities.

“I was so surprised to see how excited people were for disabled sport in England and I was really sad to realise we are really far behind in France. I hope soon people will realise in France we need to be more interested in wheelchair sport, particularly introducing children like you have been doing. Your day was a total success, and everybody looked to be having a great time!”

If you would like to learn more about Halton’s Inclusive Tennis programme, contact Tom Wood on 07729 561884.