Tennis ranks as one of the most popular spectator and participation sports in the world, with fans and competitors in more than 100 countries. Millions of people, most of them amateurs, play the game worldwide, either as recreation or in amateur tournaments.
Tennis can be played and enjoyed by everyone regardless of age, physical or mental impairments, enhancing health, fitness and general wellbeing.
Special Tennis is a fun environment that can help with a Childs cognitive, physical and motor skill development. It can also enhance their self esteem, sense of accomplishment, confidence and social skills.
Special tennis allows a child to learn and play a sport that their peers may also be doing.
At present the disabled community is supported by about 186 organizations including special schools and voluntary welfare organizations. Of the 186, only 11 provide some form of sports to the disabled and almost all cater to persons of a specific disability only. From my research only wheelchair tennis is being offered by volunteer tennis enthusiasts and not year round.
JTT Was designed in 2009 to initially run The Junior Team Tennis League (JTTL), a tennis competition for junior tennis players in Singapore. JTTL is endorsed by the Singapore Tennis association and started with over 250 participants in its first season. Season 1, 2014 had over 500 players and 81 teams. It is run by Savitar Pte Ltd which is a sports management Company in Singapore. Savitar was established in 2000 and currently runs tennis programs in 10 locations including Country Clubs, Singapore American School and United World College.
JTT and JTTL was developed and run by Project Director Niki Tippins. Niki is a former New Zealand Representative and professional tennis player. She has been a professional coach for many years, a NZ selector and travelling coach for 4 years, and had her own Tennis coaching, and Multisport Holiday Program businesses in NZ, prior to moving to Singapore one year ago. Niki is also a Qualified Occupational Therapist (Bachelor of Health Science OT, Auckland University of Technology) and has a Sports Studies diploma (Otago University). Niki’s passion for Occupational Therapy is the driving force behind the Special Tennis Initiative.
Funds from the JTTL will help to pay for Special Tennis with the hope to gain corporate sponsorship and support.
Every child has the right to enjoy the fun of learning and playing a sport. The feeling of simply throwing and catching, hitting a ball over the net, the excitement of teamwork or simply just being in a positive sporting environment should be experienced by all.
Special Tennis is a new program designed to offer tennis to EVERYONE. The program will initially be offered to children with physical or mental impairments. Our program is offered to anyone keen to play; children with hearing impairment, visual impairment, intellectual disability (learning disability), physical disability (including cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, amputees, muscular dystrophy. No one is excluded – anything is possible.
Goals of Special Tennis:
To offer Tennis as a leisure activity for all children with physical or mental impairments. The 4 week initiation course would introduce the child to tennis through movement, learning small ball skills with tennis as the theme and also the basic skills of tennis such as hitting the ball. All coaching and skills will be adapted to suit the needs of the child. This program could be done in small groups or one on one.
Another option or to add into the above offer of coaching is to work with therapists to help with their current goals in therapy by using tennis coaching as the medium. Each child could get a specialized tennis program with input and guidance by their therapist.
We hope this course can also provide a pathway into possibly mainstream tennis classes, competition and ultimately Special Olympics or Paralympics.
Niki will not be working as an Occupational Therapist nor will she be proposing that this is in place of any therapy the child is undertaking. Niki will be a Tennis coach that has the added bonus of being a trained OT. She therefore hopes to be able to have greater understanding of a child's impairments and a greater ability to deliver appropriate tennis coaching by adapting the way we teach, how we teach, modifying the equipment or skills being learned, to ensure the lesson is as client centered as possible.
Special Tennis will be managed and run by Niki Tippins. When necessary she will also have assistance from other professional tennis coaches and volunteers to ensure every child gets the most out of their sessions.
The 4 week program will be free of charge. It will be 30-60mins long, 1-2 times per week and can be run anywhere that has an open space. We have wheelchair friendly tennis courts that could also be used. We have mini tennis nets, soft balls, mini rackets etc.
We are passionate about tennis and the many great things it can offer. We are confident that each child that joins our program will feel that too, and leave with a smile on their face and the many benefits they have learned along the way.
We aim to develop a true legacy so that anyone can enjoy tennis.