Blind / Visually Impaired (VI) National Championships – 10th April

Blind / Visually Impaired (VI) National Championships – 10th April

The Blind / Visually Impaired (VI) National Tennis Championships were held last weekend, on Sunday 10th April, in Shankill LTC, Shankill, Co Dublin.

Various clubs from around the country converged on the magnificent indoor courts at Shankill Tennis Club to compete for national titles. Forty players from nine tennis clubs competed over the course of the day in various categories. The clubs participating included Ballina/Killaloe; Ballinlough (Cork); CIYMS, Belfast; Dublin City University; Galway; Sligo; Windsor Belfast, Rosslare and Shankill.

Andrea Hope (CIYMS- Belfast) won the Ladies B1 Category.

Stuart Haxell ( Sligo) won the Men’s B1 Category.

Babs Weiberg (Shankill) won the Ladies B2 Category.

Doris Finlay( CIYMS ) won the Ladies B4 Category.

As well as the championships there was a special section for the large number of new players this year.

The event was attended by John Ryan, President of Tennis Ireland and by John Foley, interim CEO of Tennis Ireland. John Ryan commented that this was his first time to see the sport “live” and he was truly amazed at how passionate, committed and skillful all of the players were for tennis.

Liam O’Donohoe of Enjoy Tennis, and a driving force behind the creation of Blind/VI Tennis in Ireland, pointed out that while the sport only started five years ago, it already has 125 players in 11 counties. The aim is to have a Blind/VI Tennis section in every county in Ireland within the next five years.

According to John Ryan, volunteerism is a unique characteristic of tennis in Ireland and the rapid growth in Blind / VI Tennis in Ireland was down to dedicated volunteers who assist with both on-court and off-court activities and without whom the sport could simply not develop.

On the coaching side, many tennis coaches have become involved, allocating and facilitating a coaching programme within their respective clubs. Several coaches attended with their players including Peter Lowther and Jo-Anne Williamson.

Among the cohort of volunteers was Tournament Director Wesley O’Brien, Ann Marie Green of Enjoy Tennis (one of the main organizers), and Veronica Casey, Chair of Shankill Tennis Club, who not only spearheaded a taskforce to bring the event to Shankill LTC, but also coordinated the large volunteer group supporting the event on the day.