A partnership between the Tennis Foundation and ROMA Sport will tackle one of the key barriers to junior and grassroots participation in wheelchair tennis with the launch of a new specially designed, affordable chair.
The chair has been developed to help deliver on the Tennis Foundation's vision of making tennis a sport which is inclusive and accessible to people from every community.
Great Britain is one of the leading wheelchair tennis nations in the world, and the Foundation's performance coaches have worked with ROMA to use their expertise and technical knowledge from the elite level of the game to develop a chair that will help more people play the sport at a grassroots level.
The launch sees tennis-specific chairs being made available for £645 for adults and £620 for youths, with a further discount for any chairs ordered through the Tennis Foundation - making the cost over 60% less than a typical entry level tennis specific chair.
The new chair is designed to ensure that a player's first experience of the game is as good as possible and encourage them to continue playing tennis. It is available in both youth and adult sizes, and has a lightweight steel frame construction to make it easier and faster for players to move around the court. The chair also has adjustable settings so it can be adapted as a player develops from a beginner to a regular player.
Joanna Farquharson, Deputy Executive Director of the Tennis Foundation, said;
"Wheelchair tennis in Great Britain has never been as strong - we saw record numbers of players picking up a racket at venues supported by the Tennis Foundation last year, while our elite players achieved unprecedented success at the Paralympic Games in Rio in winning more medals than any other nation."
"The development of this chair in partnership with ROMA will enable the Tennis Foundation to capitalise further on this success and help achieve our wider aim of supporting over 10,000 disabled people to play tennis regularly at venues we support by the end of 2020. I'd encourage anyone, of any age, considering giving wheelchair tennis a go to get in touch with us".
Manufactured in Britain at ROMA's Bridgend base, the chair is the result of a year-long process of development, testing and refinement involving players, the Tennis Foundation's disability development team and performance coaches. The specification is such that not only will the chair make a difference to disabled people in Britain but potentially around the world too, with it already having generated international interest.
John Pitt, Director of Roma Sport, said;
"We are immensely proud to manufacture this chair in Britain and be able to add a tennis-specific chair to our ROMA Sport portfolio of chairs - especially one which has been the result of such a collaborative process with the Tennis Foundation. A focus for us was on having a quick manufacture turnaround - not only have we achieved that but we will also be keeping a stock of chairs in the different sizes to enable us to get them to players as quickly as possible".
Martyn Whait, Elite Analyst Coach at the Tennis Foundation who helped develop the chair with ROMA, said;
"We knew the need was there for a cost-effective chair for beginners that was safe, mobile and would give players the best possible experience of playing tennis - and this chair delivers that. ROMA have been a fantastic partner to work with. It's great to see the development process come to fruition and players using and enjoying the new chair. It will without doubt make a real difference".
Any individuals or tennis venues interested in receiving a referral discount for the chair through the Tennis Foundation should visit http://www.tennisfoundation.org.uk/play-tennis/physically-impaired-tennis
The Tennis Foundation is Great Britain's leading tennis charity, and works to open up tennis to priority audiences of young people in education, disabled people and people in lower socio-economic communities, making it possible for them to enjoy the many health and social benefits of the sport whilst maximising their potential.
To get in touch with the Tennis Foundation or to find your nearest tennis session that caters for people who have a disability visit www.tennisfoundation.org.uk
The Tennis Foundation:
The Tennis Foundation is Great Britain's leading tennis charity and our vision is to create a sport which is inclusive and accessible to all people and communities. We aim to bring the health and social benefits of tennis to our priority audiences of young people in education, disabled people and people in lower socio-economic communities.
In partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association and many other organisations, we're promoting tennis as an inclusive sport across a wide range of disabilities. We support 333 venues across the country with training, resources and funding to improve opportunities for disabled people to play tennis in their area; We deliver world class tennis events for disabled players; and identify and develop the most talented players and deliver a world class performance programme for our most promising players.
Based in Bridgend, South Wales, Roma Sport manufactures high-performance wheelchairs for both sport and active use. Since its entrance into the disabled sports industry in 2012, Roma Sport's objective has been to produce sports equipment so that more people can experience the benefits of an active lifestyle. Specialising in bespoke designs, Roma Sport uses patented technology coupled with innovative engineering and high-quality components to develop products that find solutions.
Roma Sport partners with Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, Youth Sports Direct, and Strictly Wheels. Roma Sport was also the wheelchair supplier for wheelchair rugby Invictus Games 2014 and 2016, and the wheelchair basketball Invictus Games 2016.
The development of the Introductory Tennis Wheelchair range compliments Roma Sport's existing club and elite range of chairs as well as adds a new sport to the product offerings. With adjustable components supported by a steel frame, the design is both economical and functional, making wheelchair tennis more accessible.