Grand Valley State Rec Department Adds Tennis to Adaptive Programming Lineup

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Grand Valley State University's recreation department hosted its first adaptive tennis match, adding to a lineup of adaptive sports programming that includes wheelchair football, wheelchair basketball and goalball. 

The rec department's website says the goal is to “create an accessible and accommodating environment for those with disabilities to participate in recreation on campus.”

Adaptive Sports supervisor Samantha LaMantia told the Grand Valley Lanthorn said able-bodied athletes are encouraged to participate, as the events can be beneficial for all participants. 

“It’s a great way to put yourself in someone else’s mindset and learn the sport because a lot of them are like, completely different sports,” LaMantia said. 

For the adaptive tennis session, athletes were given brief instruction to help them get used to the equipment, as about half of the attendees hadn’t played an adaptive sport before. Supervisors led them through drills of wheelchair control and returning serves, giving helpful tips along the way. After that, they were split into teams of two and encouraged to play games at their own pace. There was the exact number of players to fill the courts, and the program had 12 wheelchairs on hand for the event. 

LaMantia said adaptive sports has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. She was happy that everyone was kind and respectful. She values seeing people bond when playing adaptive sports. 

“It doesn’t feel like work,” LaMantia said. “It’s not like I’m going into it, but I really enjoy it and I enjoy meeting new people and helping people learn, try new things and make new connections.”

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