Wheelchair tennis was back in the spotlight over the weekend as USTA Florida hosted the Level 5 Team Roller Classic at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.

15 players hit the courts on Sunday split amongst four teams – The Acers, The Crushers, The Smashers, and The Terminetters – to participate in the one-day tournament. The Team Roller Classic was USTA Florida’s first opportunity in more than a year to work across departments on an event, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This event was reliant on our confidence in our abilities to effectively communicate with players digitally and to provide the safest event possible,” said Christine Ducey, USTA Florida’s Director of Adult Tennis. “Since we have been able to do that successfully through many recent events in our League Sectionals, we felt confident moving forward with this event with additional safety precautions.”

The tournament boasted a unique gender-blind team format with three sets of singles and one set of doubles per match. The game scores were tallied throughout the round robin with the cumulative game score determining the winner.

“In a typical tournament, players are in a much more serious environment where the main goal is to advance to the next round,” shared Jennifer Wysocki, Adult Program Coordinator. “This team event allowed for players to socialize and cheer for one another. For a few players, this was their first tournament, and we saw the more experienced teammates take them under their wing and coach them through the event.”

Despite a few challenges that were overcome thanks to the expertise of the organization’s partners at the USTA National Campus, the event went off without a hitch.

“We learned so much from this experience. Some of the valuable takeaways for us were logistics while some were accessibility challenges and wheelchair repairs issues that wheelchair athletes face every day,” said Ducey. “Above all though, we learned that all efforts in this regard are well worth it. These are inspirational athletes who truly appreciated the opportunity to play.”

The Smashers were crowned the champions of the wheelchair tennis event, finishing ahead of the other teams with a score of 58. The Crushers were a close second with 56, followed by The Acers with 49 and The Terminetters with 43.


“Getting to know this great group of people a little better was the most rewarding moment of this tournament. They had such diverse stories about their tennis lives and how they have and continue to overcome challenges,” added Ducey. “Seeing wheelchair athletes filling all six courts, having fun and enjoying the spirited competition was the highlight of the day.”

 

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