Surrey tennis star Janette Reynolds has won a national tennis title for the fifth time, defending her title at the National Visually Impaired Tennis Championships in Loughborough.
Reynolds, competes in the B3 category for players with a low level of partial sight, beat off the challenges of players from around the country without dropping a set to retain her title.
Speaking after the event, Reynolds said:
“It was a great weekend and I was absolutely thrilled to have come away with the ladies B3 singles title. To be a national champion feels pretty good – how many people can say that?!”
Reynolds, who is from Carshalton, is the world number one ranked female B3 player having won the international tournament in Dublin earlier this year. She trains at Sutton Tennis Centre where she started up a group for visually impaired tennis players, having previously ben a regular tennis player.
“I stopped playing tennis around six years ago when my eyesight started to impact on my ability to carry on playing sports that I loved, with tennis being one of them” Reynolds said. “Somebody told me about a group of visually impaired people who were playing an adapted form of tennis, that is to say, with a slightly reduced length court and with bright yellow sponge sound balls. I went along to see it for myself and have not looked back, winning 5 national titles to date and have represented Great Britain internationally which is something I am extremely proud to have achieved.
“Playing visually impaired tennis gave me the confidence not to be deterred from doing sport because of my eyesight”.
“Tennis for the visually impaired has changed substantially since 2012 when I started, with the sport growing to such an extent that now there are regular regional tournaments across the country, the yearly national tournament and now international competition too.”
Visually impaired tennis is an adapted from the full court version of tennis and uses a smaller court marked out with lower nets and tactile lines, and an audible ball so players can hear it bounce. Depending on a player’s degree of sight loss they may have between one and three bounces of the ball before returning it back to their opponent. Competitions take place across four sight categories, B1 to B4/B5 – with B1 players having the greatest degree of sight loss.
Anyone interested in giving visually impaired tennis a try can contact the Tennis Foundation, Great Britain’s leading tennis charity. It is one of the fastest growing disability sports with participation thriving around the country.
As a sign of the growth in participation the sport is experiencing, this year’s Nationals included junior players for the first time, something that pleased Reynolds. Asked what she would say to anyone considering giving it a go, she said:
“I would urge anyone who feels they would like to give visually impaired tennis a go to find a group in your area by getting onto the Tennis Foundation and play tennis because you won’t regret it.
“The one thing I would love to see is more young visually impaired people getting into the sport because it offers the opportunity to carry on playing this great game with all the good things sport brings into your life. “
You can learn more about VI tennis or find a session near you on the Tennis Foundation website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
QUICK FACTS: Visually Impaired Tennis
- One of the fastest growing disability sports
- Ambitions for it to become a future Paralympic sport
- Adapted from the full court version of tennis to a smaller court, marked out with lower nets and tactile lines
- Uses an audible ball so players can hear it bounce
- Players compete in different categories, with B1 having the greatest degree of sight loss
- Depending on a player’s category they are allowed between one and three bounces of the ball
- Competitions are fun and friendly and take place regionally and nationally throughout the year!
- If you have any questions email email@example.com or join the Blind Tennis UK Facebook group and ask other players!