The Wheelchair Tennis Community app, launched last month, is fast becoming the social hub for players and coaches, organizers, family members, and fans of the game both disabled and able-bodied.
Wheelchair tennis players and communities across the U.S. and around the world are now sharing stories, photos, videos, and news on wheelchair events and activities. App features include a global activity feed, Coaches Corner, event/issue surveying, community spotlights, message boards and more.
We spoke with 2014 USTA Florida Wheelchair Player of the Year award winner David Mayo of Pensacola about the app, where it could take wheelchair tennis, and the current state of the game. Mayo is also the tournament director for the Pensacola Open Wheelchair Championships, which will celebrate its 12th anniversary this coming March.
So what do you think of the wheelchair app?
David Mayo: My first impression was the ‘Wow’ factor — I was impressed how clean and professional it looked, it has a little Facebook feel to it. It exceeded my expectations after I downloaded it. It was great to see that some of the people using it were beyond our [U.S.] borders.
What impact do you think the app will have on the wheelchair community?
DM: I think the communication in the wheelchair community is going to go from virtually zero to a great deal. There was no real communication before, you had to be Facebook friends directly, or have people on your e-mail, or their personal phone number. There was little communication or inspiration among wheelchair players, and now this is a game changer for that. It’s like going from a Model T to getting around to a Ferrari.
What’s your favorite app function?
DM: I like the fact that there are pictures on the app and you can upload them — pictures are typically what people look for, you get some comments, but the pictures capture people’s attention. I received my USTA Florida Wheelchair Player of the Year award and I’m going to post a picture to the app. I have a Facebook page but I don’t use it much, I’m going to be 52 [this month] so I guess I’m a little old school.
As tournament director for the Pensacola Open Wheelchair Championships and an avid competitive tournament player, how do you see wheelchair tennis developing over the next few years?
DM: While this app is helping, I’ve been sad to see the Atlanta Open go away, and the Florida Open has gone away, and it’s a little discouraging that opportunities for these tournaments are becoming less rather than more. Just like the able-bodied scene, I think we had only two [ATP American men] players in the Top 50, maybe three, and it’s very similar in wheelchair tennis. I think we only have one player in the Top 50, it might be two, but we’re a little bit weak on the international scene, and the wheelchair side I think mirrors the able-bodied side. Hopefully some way, some how we can turn that around where we can get some Sampras’ and Agassi’s in the able-bodied, and the equivalent on the wheelchair side.
What do you see the app doing for individual players or local communities?
DM: Sometimes I feel like I’m kind of in a bubble, like in my community of Pensacola — I’m one of the few wheelchair players, and sometimes you get the impression there is not a lot going on. This app gives you instant awareness of the extensiveness of our community, and it’s motivating. You see there’s a lot going on, and it motivates you to get ready for that next tournament. It just sort of opens your eyes to all that’s going on, that without the app you wouldn’t realize.
The Wheelchair Tennis Community app can be downloaded by anyone with a mobile device or tablet. To register and join, visit Apple Inc.’s App Store (iOS) for iPhone and iPad devices, or the Google Play Store for Android devices.