I can’t see now, that’s it.
My tennis days are over and really it’s just a new challenge for people Can they actually develop the skills
to play this new sport – VI Tennis? Just because you’re visually impaired
does not mean that you are limited My name is Jack Fisher, I’m 23 years old I’m studying at the University of Derby Having just completed a degree in
mathematics at the University of Derby I just started a PhD in
mathematics and computer science about helping the visually impaired cope with mathematics Coding is a complicated subject but being a visually impaired person
doesn’t make it any easier As the text on the screen
has to be scaled up to be readable which means less text can be shown and this makes it even harder
to understand the code in full picture However, this has not challenged jack He has been putting a lot of effort
into memorising codes now he is capable of writing on his own Outside of University Jack plays
visually impaired tennis This was originated by a blind Japanese in 1984 who was passionate in making tennis
accessible to the VI community And it is now being played in over 30 countries – including UK VI tennis was first introduced here in 2006 And the number of players is continuously growing For Jack, his interest in tennis started with a tennis court, next to his house I first started playing tennis
when I was a very young child As we had a tennis
court by our first house and I used to go down there regularly and just hit the balls from
one side of the court to the other In the last few years I started
playing visually impaired tennis as my dad found that on the internet
when we were looking for things to do Since then I’ve been playing it
for the past four or five years VI tennis is different in many ways to normal tennis in that we use a different sized court and we use a different balls slightly bigger and made of sponge code with bells inside Depending on your sight category,
you have different bounces So if you are in B1 – completely blind you’ll get three bounces and you have to wear blindfolds If you are in B2, you have some sight you also play with three bounces And you play on a bigger court,
but not blindfolded And if you are a B3, as I am you’ll get two bounces and you play
again on the four size quarter and you’re not blindfolded You are also allowed to volley in any category if you’re a B4 or B5, you play with one bounce you’re not blindfolded and you also play on the same sized court The difference in actual gameplay
made it slightly easier than playing normal tennis In the last couple of years, Jack has started receiving trainings at the Nottingham Tennis Centre Martin has been coaching Jack’s playing
by focusing on his weaknesses such as backhand When he (Jack) came to me Jack was … He could hit a ball okay And he’s got a great forehand but he’s backhand at that time
was almost non-existent and when asked him why it was all about I can’t play. I’m no good at it Jack, in this case was, backhand was a lot weaker let’s encourage his backhand And the way you do that is obviously by getting drills but then in points you can always kind of make it so that ok Jack we’ll play some points out if you hit a winning ball on the forehand,
you’ll get one point If you winner if you hit a winning ball on the backhand side you get five points You know Jack’s obviously very good at his maths So he would work out actually,
‘wait a sec, I only have to hit two backhands versus I’ll have to hit 10 forehand so then it starts to encouraged him on that backhand side although initially visually impaired tennis
is a difficult sport It is a lot of fun to play
and over time it will become much easier and much more a fun sport to play against people currently this year there are seven
tournaments as one has been added These are in Loughborough, York Newcastle, Cambridge,
London, Birmingham, and the Nationals which is also held in London The tournaments are currently held as one or two-day tournaments Apart from playing in the tournaments they’re a great way to socialise with other people who participate As usually, the same people appear in most of the tournaments This means that we can reconnect with
people we may not have seen for a while And it’s a great way to make friends and
exchange useful information from other people such as how to use software and how to cope with other visually
impaired problems My goal for this year for the tournament is
to get into the semi-finals of the doubles and to get into the quarterfinals with the singles As these have never been achieved by me yet This is my first match of the year
A little bit nervous… I won the first one and lost the second one against Alex… Game Ralph I am very happy that I have achieved my
goals of reaching the quarterfinals in the singles and the semi finals in the doubles This is because of my determination and
the amount of effort I’ve put into training this year More importantly though, I have enjoyed
playing every match and I treasure the friendships I’ve built up
in this community Francis: how would you describe Jack as a person? Oh I love Jack Jack is a really friendly, warm
very supportive person probably just determined It doesn’t always win
but he does keep coming back And he always enjoyed himself He is very friendly and as Dave says They have been really competitive games
against the each other He’s just an all-around good guy, he’s lovely You know very sociable Always comes to the after-party so to speak, you know, the tournament meals Very chatty I don’t think you’d ever describe
him as shy Actually I’d describe him as a role model for the younger you know, boys and girls coming up through the sport I think Jack is, you know, he kind
of leads and and that’s a good thing people follow as well Jack will often help meet the players at the train station And then they’ll all go together
to the Tennis Center to train And then afterward they’ll all go something to eat And Jack is always at the front in the queue because he is confident that you can
lead them all and obviously you’ve got B1s at the back of the line where
they perhaps won’t know where they are going or they’re following Jack So you can kind of see, they have built a lot of trust
in the players, in his peers And you know that they’re leading it
You know, he’s leading them Disabilities is about how it changes and it’s for each individual person For us (as coaches) it’s about
working what works with the player and then from there we kind
of move it forward So for example for me if we’re working with B1s
which is obviously no sight whatsoever and they play with blindfolds on It’s a totally different way to teach
than it would be with the B2, B3 Where they got limited sight but they can kind of see the ball once
it’s within two meter or two meters and then they can go and hit it So the various coaching depends
on the player and their ability Rather than going straight and hitting tennis ball Things like tracking of the ball So that’s the key Can they hear the ball correctly? so rolling the ball to them and saying, ‘just go out go move to that ball’ you know can they decide
when the ball is in front of them And then you get them with the racket
and they just stop the ball in front of them So they can hear it come to them when it they think it’s close enough they stop the ball so you build it up gradually until you feel that they’re ready they
can hit at least one ball Even if you just put the ball on the racket.
At least they can hit it And then you can then describe yeah That was good it went in the net
or went over the net or it went a million miles out So for me it’s about,
you building the confidence up rather than just going straight into a game of tennis where really you’re setting everyone up to fail because it’s never going to happen And you’ve got to build it up Get their confidence going The other thing is relating to the player So why does anybody do tennis? Take away the VI tennis Why do you and I do tennis? why would Fred Bloggs do tennis? and it’s more of a social When I initially started playing visually-impaired tennis I found that the VI tennis community They were very welcoming and sociable community who are willing to help me with whatever I needed such as getting tennis balls from Japan or getting from wherever to the venue
that I wish to play at So the community around the game is absolutely really really amazing And it encourages you to become more socialised which is something a lot of visually impaired
people have difficulty with and in terms of getting out the house and getting mobile and stuff like that We all like a good party after the tournaments
and whether you are drinking to celebrate or you are drinking to commiserate
your results of that weekend We all really get on well – and as Janette says it is like a big family People encourage everybody, you
know if you are having a bad day I haven’t done so great and great this morning and you know people have been really supportive and say you are playing really well… Tennis isn’t just about can I do it
or the football if you played football It’s about I’m part of something I’m part of a group and part of a team
where I can kind of be you know be the same as everyone else And just having good banter So everyone should give it a go No matter what your impairment To join the VI tennis community is very easy to find It can be found on Facebook
using the VI Tennis UK Facebook group It can also be found
by googling VI tennis

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Dennis Veasley

One thought on “Limitless – Visually Impaired Tennis”

  1. Thank you for this informative documentary, giving a refreshing perspective of disability in an empowering and fun environment. I applaud Jack, the crew and those involved in the filming/editing/entire project and hope that VI tennis continues to gain increased coverage so that individuals with a VI can have the opportunity and awareness that a hobby such as this is available for them to partake in. Thanks once again.. Go Jack :D!

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