Tournament showcases steely wheels on court
TENNIS: Grafton City Tennis Club hosted their first wheelchair tournament, which proved to be a resounding success, with many players already registering interest for a return event next year.
"Grafton is quite central, it only takes me a day's drive from Sydney,” said first time tournament player, Pete Pittorino from the Royal Rehabilitation Centre.
Most players travelled from Brisbane, Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour, except for Pittorino and local hopeful Will Elrick, who was one of the driving forces behind the club hosting the tournament.
Another driving force was sports wheelchair manufacturer Dion Reweti from Wicked Wheelchairs.
When delivering the club's first wheelchair last year, he commented on the hardcourts being the perfect venue for an event and was happily in attendance with plenty of playing friends.
In all, 13 players entered our tournament including two women and a 10-year-old junior star, Marcus Lentini.
The club brought in five of their local junior players to give Marcus some good tennis, and everyone enjoyed it.
The players did really well, it was a challenge for them with the heat and humidity, and we decided to give them a lot of tennis.
They were playing all day Saturday with small breaks, and some played a small social up-down event in the late afternoon with some good local players and two visiting ITF players.
The tournament finished on Sunday with the finals and doubles matches.
Peter McClintock from the Sunshine Coast took out the singles title as well as winning the doubles with his partner Kent McKelvie from Brisbane.
The tournament was supported by the Clarence Valley Council and Far North Coast Ability Links, and mayor Jim Simmons as well as deputy mayor Jason Kingley were present at the inauguration.
The tournament drew a few spectators from our community and members and friends of the tennis club helped make both days a success.
We are looking forward to holding another tournament next year, and will apply for ITF sanctioning to attract international wheelchair tennis players.
At least we know there is already a crop of happy players willing to come back.
Images of the Grafton City Tennis Club's inaugural wheelchair tennis tournament were provided by local photographer HJH-Media. Find them online here.