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Top Able-Bodied and Wheelchair Players Share Court Time

April 6, 2004 12:16 PM

Last weekend’s USA Tennis High Performance Training Camp in Charlotte, NC featured the first official integrated camp, as able-bodied and wheelchair players were coached and trained together for the first time in High Performance Training Camp history. Invitations to USA Tennis High Performance Training Camps are extended to the top junior able-bodied and wheelchair tennis players in the USTA Southern Section. All past camps have been conducted separately for wheelchair and able-bodied players.

The camp, which was directed by former touring professional and North Carolina native Tim Wilkison, was held at the Providence Day School in Charlotte on March 27 and 28. Wilkison was assisted by Dan James, USTA Paralympic Coach and Product Manager of USA Tennis High Performance Wheelchair; David Hatsek, 2003 USTA Southern Wheelchair Player of the Year; Mervyn Webster, USTA National Coach; Eric Voges, USTA High Performance Coach; Brian DeVilliers, USTA High Performance Coach; Sandy Hastings, USTA Southern Section Director of Community Development and Bill Ozaki, USTA Southern Section High Performance Director. Dr Rick Offutt, Vice-Chair of the USTA Southern High Performance Committee and Gary Workman, NCTA Wheelchair Committee, assisted locally.

“Having both able bodied and wheelchair players at the same camp brings a new level of respect to both groups,” said David Hartsek. “As a wheelchair player I’ve found that working closely with the able bodied coaches has been invaluable. The integration of able bodied and wheelchair high performance training camps is good for the game and something I hope we will continue.”

Kentucky's Emmy Kaiser with her USA Tennis High Performance counterparts.
“This camp was phenomenal and well worth the time and effort in planning it,” agreed USTA Paralympic Coach Dan James. “The USTA Southern Section once again showed why they are national leaders in wheelchair tennis initiatives.”

“This camp has been a real thrill for my daughter,” said Patty Kaiser, mother of Emmy Kaiser, 13, from Ft. Mitchell, KY and the no. 15 ranked junior wheelchair singles player in 2003. “Coming to a camp where able bodied kids and kids in chairs are playing together gives a balance to real life. This experience allows able bodied and kids in chairs alike to appreciate each other by working and playing together. Able bodied can see what work it is for kids in chairs to play and, for our kids, this is what real world is about and they appreciate the opportunity to come and play and see what these other kids are doing on a regular basis.”

The camp featured 16 able bodied and four wheelchair players. The able bodied participants were: Jarmere Jenkins, Jennifer Meredith, Doug Perrin, Powell Porter and Ryan Smith from Atlanta, GA; Will and Sarah Guzick from Greer, SC; Chris Motes and Jordan Walters from Augusta, GA; Alexa Ely from Asheville, NC; Laurianne Henry from Anderson, SC; Ryan Noble and Reka Zsilinszky from Fayetteville, NC; and Merritt Trigg and MacLane Wilkison from Charlotte, NC.

The participating wheelchair players included, Philip Cash from Forest, MS; Jordan Butler from Columbus, GA; Chris Felkl from Raleigh, NC; and Emmy Kaiser from Ft. Mitchell, KY.

The USA Tennis High Performance program is charged with creating the optimal environment and competitive system to support America’s top prospects and facilitate the development of world-class American tennis champions.

As the national governing body for wheelchair tennis, the USTA manages wheelchair tennis in the United States, including the sanctioning of tournaments, overseeing the ranking systems, creating and managing a High Performance program for developing elite disabled athletes and coaches, and selecting teams to compete internationally for the United States.




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