ANTHONY MCLACHLAN:
Blind tennis is a sport that is safe enough
for people with a wide range of abilities to play. British Columbians got to try it
out courtesy of BC Blind Sports and a dedicated
group of volunteers. VICTORIA NOLAN: Vancouver
presenter Grant Hardy attended a blind tennis practise to find
out more about this adaptive sport. Let’s check it out. MONICA NELSON: I
came out of curiosity to see what blind tennis
was going to be like. I was wondering how I could
possibly find the ball. My name’s Monica Nelson,
and I’m a participant in the blind tennis
program here. GRANT HARDY: As
Monica soon found out, blind tennis has
specific adaptations that allow people with vision
loss to swing their racket and serve up some fun. BC Blind Sports facilitator
Graham Foxcroft explains. GRAHAM FOXCROFT:
For blind tennis, the court sizes are different. For B1s, who is 2% vision or
less, the court is smaller and they’re allowed
three bounces compared to B2s and
B3s, whose court is a little bit bigger, who
have 2% to 5% vision as B2s and 5% to 10% vision as B3s. And they’re allowed two bounces,
and the first bounce for both have to be within the
court, and the second bounce or third bounce, for B1s,
could be outside the court. The ball itself
has rattles inside. And the thing that
would take the most time was tracking the ball. You’re going to hear
the ball on a bounce. And then to re-hear it and
track where the ball is is what would take
time for someone. GRANT HARDY: Monica agrees
that the ear-hand coordination is the most challenging
aspect of the game. MONICA NELSON: Unfortunately,
it doesn’t make any noise when it’s in the
air, so you have to listen for when it bounces. And then if it bounces
the second time, you hear which
direction it’s going. And if you’re lucky, you get
there in time to hit it back. GRANT HARDY: All this talk
of tennis piqued my interest, and I decided to give it a try. But before we could get
started, Coach Kiyo Breitling got our legs and arms warmed up. KIYO BREITLING:
Rotate the whole arm. One, two, three, four. VOLUNTEER: It was time to
get familiar with the ball, especially to its
rattle and bounce. And if you move it around,
it makes them move. GRANT HARDY: A sighted
volunteer tried to teach me how to bounce
the ball on my racquet. It proved a little
challenging, again and again. Next, I learned how to find the
bouncing ball with my racquet. And finally, how to
serve and return volley. I wish I could say that I
had the form of a tennis pro, but the truth is that when
it comes to blind tennis, I still have a lot
of practising to do. The players at our
event may vary in skill, but they certainly
were all having fun. And for coach Breitling,
that’s the best part. KIYO BREITLING:
Hit over the net. That’s good. I was so happy to see the
people hitting a ball that never hit it before, especially when
they hit the ball over the net. Boy, that was really
something else. GRANT HARDY: For Monica,
running and connecting with the ball is so
satisfying, and she’d love to see more blind players
participating and growing the sport. MONICA NELSON: I love the
sport, and it’s a lot of fun. And I hope people
come out and try it. VICTORIA NOLAN: There is no
doubt that everyone at that community centre was,
ahem, having a ball. ANTHONY MCLACHLAN: Yes,
but don’t make a racket, otherwise the players
won’t be able to hear the bounce of the ball. Don’t look at me like that. You started it. VICTORIA NOLAN: What’s
great about this sport is how versatile it is. It can be played by all kinds
of people at all different skill levels and even by yourself. ANTHONY MCLACHLAN: But of
course, playing on your own isn’t as fun as joining others. So to look into the availability
of this and other BC Blind Sports programs, you can
check out their website at bcblindsports.bc.ca.

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Dennis Veasley

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