County Durham tennis star Samantha Murray has won a national tennis title, claiming victory at the National Visually Impaired Tennis Championships in Loughborough.
A member of the North East Visually Impaired Tennis Club (NEVITC), Murray trains at Silksworth Tennis Centre in Sunderland and The Northumberland Club in Jesmond. Competing in the B4/B5 category for players with a good level of partial sight, Murray beat off the challenges of players from around the country without dropping a set to claim the trophy.
Speaking after the event, she said:
“I played against some really great players in the tournament and it’s still sinking it that I’ve won. My last match (against fellow North-Easterner Rosie Pybus) was very close it could have gone either way. I personally think it was best match I’ve played in all of the games I’ve had”.
It is her opponent in that final match who Murray has to thank for getting her started in the sport.
“I started to play tennis in 2005 when I joined the deaf club at the age of 11”, Murray said. “We played after school every Monday until I was 16. I then started visually impaired tennis in 2017 after being diagnosed with sight problems and wanting to get back into tennis. I then got in touch with my friend Rosie after reading about the VI tennis group on Facebook. I have the best times when I play and train with them and it gives me something to look forward to and gets me out the house.”
The national title follows a run of success for Murray this year, with her having won regional events in Newcastle and York, as well as NEVITC’s Dave Russell Memorial Club Championship B4 title.
Looking ahead, Murray said:
“My future targets would be to do my level 2 coaching qualification and work my way up higher, and also to play internationals tournaments as well”.
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.
Murray would encourage other visually impaired people to give the sport a try, saying:
“Go for it and enjoy it as much as you can – even if you lose a game or match don’t stop just keep practicing and you’ll get there. I’ve made some amazing friends by taking part in VI tennis and it’s making me a better person”.
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!