Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much - Helen Keller
Blind tennis is a relatively new sport!
Blind tennis was created by Miyoshi Takei in 1984 in Kawagoe, Saitama Japan. Miyoshi was a blind high school student with a dream to hit a tennis ball. Dreams do come true.
Thanks to a recent partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Be Well Program, Clovernook Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired, and the Bridge Adaptive Sports and Recreation, adaptive programming has expanded to include blind tennis. Cincinnati Tennis Foundation is one of only three National Junior Tennis & Learning chapters in the entire United States to offer a blind tennis program. Zack Sikora, a CTF lead coach and mentor, and an internationally ranked wheelchair athlete, took on this new initiative with the team and enrolled 22 kids for their first blind tennis clinic in October of 2021.
Zack quickly determined that he needed to adjust his coaching to include many more verbal directives. He also quickly realized that this program would require more funding. Blind tennis is played with a modified tennis ball, one with a bell inside. Each ball costs five dollars, and because of the additional on-court assistance needed, the overall cost is almost twice that of a typical clinic. Zack knew he needed to raise more money but remained convinced that no matter the cost, it was worth it to see the joy on the kids’ faces when hitting a tennis ball.
“It just knocks down the barriers for those kids to show them that they’re more capable than maybe what they think. I think teaching them that independence and that confidence of being able to be more independent than they were yesterday, for example, is just such an important life lesson.”
Energy and passion prevailed. In January of 2023, monthly sessions began for blind and visually impaired tennis. This July, tennis will be featured at a week-long camp to be held by Clovernook Center at Miami University.
Money donated to the USTA/Midwest Tennis & Education Foundation (MTEF) goes directly to programs like the Cincinnati Tennis Foundation. Join Zack, the Cincinnati Tennis Foundation and MTEF to help more kids and more programs spread the joy of tennis to blind and visually impaired kids throughout the Midwest. Donate today!
To read more about the Cincinnati Tennis Foundation, please visit www.cincinnatitennisfoundation.org.