If you’ve read our blogs before, you’ll know our Philanthropy Manager, Monica, is no stranger to a challenge, most recently completing the 5.25 mile wild swimming event in an incredible 3 hours and 32 minutes! (Read more about her ChillSwim experience here). Monica’s next adventure will be playing tennis for Great Britain in The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Games!
After first trying her hand at tennis five years ago, Monica was hooked! She trains at Metro Blind Sport and has private coaching at Harlow Tennis Club. Speaking of her introduction to tennis, she shared:
“When I was growing up at school, I was always the last person to be chosen for any netball team, or relay races or anything like that, because who wanted a blind person on their team? When I was in my 40s, I decided to try out some of the sports that were available for blind and partially sighted people and I heard about tennis. I joined a session and when we got there we were shown the ball and racket. Of the first five shots that were aimed at me, I hit two of the five and I just thought ‘wow, this is amazing’.”
“The reason I wanted to coach Monica is because it was a new challenge in my career as a coach which I had never done before. It demonstrates a different side to the game and has made me think outside the box when coaching”.
– Andy, Monica’s Tennis Coach
How is tennis adapted for blind and partially sighted people?
Visually impaired tennis players use a larger ball than the standard tennis equivalent. This version has ball bearings built into the centre, meaning when it bounces, it gives acoustic feedback. A smaller court with shorter rackets and a lower net can also be used, as well as tactile lines on the court for players with low vision. Depending on their level of vision, a player may have up to three bounces of the ball before returning it to their opponent.
Eye patching and eye shades are required for players competing in the category with the least amount of sight. This is done to ensure a level playing field, as some players may still have some vision.
Monica explains her experience playing the B1 game:
“In the B1 game, you hit it on the third bounce, everything else is exactly the same – scoring is the same – and it very much relies on a lot of volunteers helping us around the court, helping to pick up balls. We have regional competitions happening – six a year. You have to play in one regional competition to play in the nationals and there’s a nationals’ competition every year. I won the nationals B1 women’s category in 2019 and 2022 and I’ve been on the GB team for the last couple of years!”
What are The IBSA World Games?
Beginning in 1998 in Madrid, The IBSA World Games are the largest high-level international event for athletes with visual impairments, welcoming more than 1000 competitors from more than 70 nations! The multi-sport competition is held every four years and in August 2023, it will be held in Birmingham. This year, tennis will be introduced for the very first time!
Everyone at Fight for Sight / Vision Foundation is rooting for Monica at the upcoming games in Birmingham! We wish the best of luck to everyone competing. If you’d like to show your support, you can find information about the event and book tickets on the IBSA website here. From goalball to Judo, chess to powerlifting, the World Games has something for everyone!