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Middle Tennessee Falls Short as Texas-Arlington sweeps titles at USTA National Collegiate Wheelchair Tennis Championships

May 3, 2004 12:15 PM
Host Texas-Arlington's Danny Fik and Sarah Casteel captured the singles titles on May 2 at the inaugural United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Collegiate Wheelchair Tennis Championships at the UTA Tennis Center.
UTA's Fik beat Middle Tennessee's Kevin Green in the men's singles final and UTA's Casteel topped Arizona's Nicole Saltzberg in the women's final. Both singles finalists rebounded to win doubles titles. Middle Tennessee's Green and Russell Rodriguez won the men's championship, while Arizona's Saltzberg and Kiersten Mohr won the women's title.
The tournament featured players from four schools: Arizona, Middle Tennessee, Northeast Louisiana and host Texas-Arlington. An organized, national wheelchair championship at the collegiate level for any sport is very rare and this year's tennis championships are expected to be the start of a growing event, with the field expanding each year.
"The event went superb and it was exactly the kind of event we hoped it would be," Tina Dale, USTA Wheelchair Tennis Committee Chairwoman, said.
Wheelchair tennis is one of the fastest growing and most challenging of all wheelchair sports. To meet this demand, the USTA offers programs geared towards the wheelchair player. Rules are the same as stand-up tennis, except the wheelchair player is allowed two bounces of the ball. Wheelchair tennis provides persons with disabilities the opportunity to share in activities with their peers and family, whether able-bodied or disabled. Playing wheelchair tennis adds to socialization and the normalization of life after sustaining a disabling injury. Proficient wheelchair users can play and actively compete against stand-up players. In wheelchair tennis, the player must master the game and the wheelchair. Learning mobility on the court is exciting and challenging, and helps build strength and cardiovascular ability.

The purposes of collegiate wheelchair tennis are: to advance the growth of wheelchair tennis, to encourage individuals with disabilities to pursue a college education and to give students with disabilities the opportunity to compete in an intercollegiate sport as a representative of their institution.
This event is also part of the USTA, Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association's (NIRSA) intramural tennis initiative. The goal of this initiative is to encourage and empower students in wheelchairs to join campus recreational classes and organized tennis activities in an effort to stay physically active while in school. Most important, this initiative is not a separate one from the one to increase intramural participation amongst able-bodied students on college campuses. The goals are exactly the same and integration is the key to growing the number of students in wheelchairs participating in a tennis program.
Collegiate wheelchair tennis has come a long way over the past few years. In addition to this national tournament, the sport now includes regional events during the academic year and season-ending rankings.
 

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