Wheelchair tennis facts for fully enjoying wheelchair tennis
The origins of wheelchair tennis
Wheelchair tennis got its start in 1976 when Brad Parks, an American acrobatic skier who was paralyzed from the waist down after a skiing accident, started hitting around a tennis ball while in his wheelchair.
As one of the most popular wheelchair sports in the world, wheelchair tennis does not differ from conventional tennis in that it is played on the same tennis courts and uses the same rackets, balls, and other equipment.
Wheelchair tennis is essentially played in accordance with the same rules as those for able-bodied players as stipulated by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), with the only difference being that wheelchair tennis players are allowed two bounces before returning the ball.
Wheelchair tennis has been an official sport since its debut at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona, and wheelchair tennis [matches? / events?] have been held at the [five / four?] major tennis tournaments (i.e., Australian Open, French Open, British Open (Wimbledon), and US Open) since 2007.
Wheelchair tennis tournaments
Wheelchair tennis tournaments are held worldwide, and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Wheelchair Tennis Tour (World Tour) got its start in 1992 with 11 national and international tournaments.
The scale and popularity of the sport has grown, and there are now more than 160 tournaments held around the world. To compete in ITF-recognized tournaments and the Paralympic Games, athletes must be diagnosed with a permanent mobility impairment (in one or both of the lower limbs; partial or total disability).
Tournaments are graded in the following order: Grand Slam (GS), Super Series (SS), ITF1, ITF2, ITF4, and Futures Series. The NEC Wheelchair Tennis Singles Masters is the culmination of these tours, serving as the world championship tournament to decide the world champion for the year.
What is the Quad Class in wheelchair tennis?
Aside from men's and women's wheelchair tennis, there is also a Quad Class for players with hand and finger disabilities in addition to lower limb disabilities.
Quad is derived from the term quadriplegia. In this class, no distinction is made between men and women, and taping of rackets and hands as well as the use of electric wheelchairs is allowed.
Japan: A wheelchair tennis powerhouse
Japan is known for being a powerhouse in wheelchair tennis, with six players (men's, women's and Quad Class combined; as of February 2023) ranked in the top 10 of the world rankings published by the International Tennis Federation. Among them, Shingo Kunieda (a player supported by NEC), is known as a leading wheelchair tennis player and has won three gold medals in singles and one in doubles at the Paralympics. Kunieda has also achieved a lifetime Golden Slam and won a total of 50 titles (28 for singles and 22 for doubles), the most of any male player in history. Meanwhile, the next generation of wheelchair tennis players is beginning to emerge. At the age of 17, Tokito Oda became the youngest player in history to win the singles men's championship at the 2022 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Singles Masters.
World ranking calculation method
The ranking is calculated based on the best 9 matches over the course of the last year for men, 8 matches for women, and 7 matches for the Quad Class (results from tournaments prior to the last two years are rounded down). The ITF updates these rankings every Monday. World rankings can be viewed by clicking on the following URL: https://www.itftennis.com/en/rankings/uniqlo-wheelchair-tennis-tour-rankings/