Air Capital Classic Wheelchair Tennis Camp / Tournament
June 29th – July 3, 2011
When it works it works well.
Recently Wheelchair Sports, Inc., a USTA Community Tennis Association held its 12th wheelchair tennis tournament and added a two day tennis camp on the front end to make it a memorable event for both players and instructors. Planning started in the fall of 2010 with several phone calls to gauge the interest from both players and the USTA in such an event. Everyone we talked with thought it was a good idea and might be worth a try.
In December 2010, WSI wrote grants to the USTA, USTA Missouri Valley, and USTA Kansas District seeking funding for this new adventure. All three groups came through with funding for the event and were excited about the prospect of this new format. The next big project for the camp was getting the right instructors to commit to coming and teaching at the camp. In January and February we contacted Dan James, National Manager Wheelchair Tennis, Paul Walker, 2011 Women’s World Team Cup Coach, Wheelchair Tennis Paralympian Nick Taylor who’s from Wichita, and Jeff Clark who is the Director of Riverside Tennis Center in Wichita. They all agreed to be instructors with Dan James being the lead instructor. Then we took to the phone and started calling as many regional players as we could to let them know our plans and to peak their interest.
On June 29th we had 29 players and six instructors in Wichita for the two day camp. Players came from New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas so it really was a regional event. Players were at every level of play: Quad Open, Women’s Open, A, B, C, and Juniors. Some of the players had been playing for only a few months and others have played for 25+ years. The goal of the camp was to expose everyone to new ways of approaching the game, improving current skills, and teaching new skills they could practice once they returned home.
The players were divided into groups of five or six based on skill level and each group experienced being taught by every instructor during the camp so they got multiple perspectives on tennis. By dividing the groups by skill level it gave instructors the ability to specialize the sessions and give each group a new challenge that would push them.
One of the really neat aspects of this event was all the cooperation and coordination that took place behind the scenes. USTA National and Jeremiah Yolkut were very helpful in many facets from finding the instructors that knew how to organize a two day camp to marketing of the event. USTA Missouri Valley and Mary Buschmann were helpful in approaching vendors to assist with some additional donations. USTA Kansas District helped get the word out to players in other areas of the state. Local restaurants donated or greatly discounted food for the players. The new Fairfield Inn Downtown gave us very reasonable rates for player rooms. Wheelchair Sports Inc. was the main sponsor and provided shirts, hats, and towels for each of the players. Riverside Tennis Center, the City of Wichita, and Jeff Clark helped immensely by allowing us to use both the outdoor and indoor courts. It was great getting to utilize the freshly resurfaced courts and new lighting system that Riverside just completed. Without this combined group effort this event would not have been successful.
The main battle was keeping players hydrated and cooled down since everyday of the camp was over 100 degrees. Schedules were modified and players were encouraged to go at a reasonable pace and not overexert themselves.
The tournament was successful and a total of 32 players participated this year up from 19 participants last year. Our initial feedback is that everyone thought the event was very good and beneficial. Several people asked if we were planning to do another camp/tournament next year. That is a question that will be answered another day after we recuperate from this event.