Bright Spots in a Rain-Soaked Battery Park Junior Open
A weather alert was emailed to all players and parents, and the outpouring of support was the bright spot of an otherwise soggy and gray tournament.
Thanks to players and parents who reserved indoor courts at their clubs and to Raintree Swim and Racquet Club, twenty-eight matches were completed on indoor courts on Saturday. The weatherman delivered the goods the following morning for a rain free Sunday that allowed the completion of most divisions.
Another bright spot! During the tournament we learned that Emerald Fleming, the G16 Satellite division champion, is also a champion volunteer off the court.
Emerald, a freshman at JR Tucker High School, was playing tennis at U-Turn two years ago when she was spotted by Karin Korb, a former wheelchair tennis Paralympian who was visiting Richmond as a guest coach for the RTA/Sportable wheelchair tennis clinic that is held at Byrd Park. Karen convinced Emerald to come to Byrd Park to help at the RTA/Sportable wheelchair tennis clinic.
Emerald has not only been volunteering at Byrd Park ever since but has also supported the Midlothian Athletic Club Wheelchair Tennis Open. Emerald participated in the Sportable Run/Roll Social, an event that brings able bodied tennis players (the “run” partner) and wheelchair tennis players (the “roll” partner) together for doubles tennis play.
Did you know that tennis is unique among traditional sports in fully embracing wheelchair players as participants? Wheelchair tennis players are eligible for all sanctioned tennis competitions, team events and tennis leagues. They play doubles and singles with and against able bodied players and other wheelchair tennis players under the same basic rules of the sport, the only exception being that the ball remains in play for the wheelchair tennis player after a second bounce.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself competing against a wheelchair tennis player on court. One Chantilly High School wheelchair tennis player tried out and made the varsity tennis team last year, and one adult wheelchair tennis player currently plays on a USTA league team in Fredericksburg.
Thank you, Emerald, for giving back to the sport you love. Emerald is a gem!