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Four players training in Middlesex selected for Blind Tennis International in Spain

June 7, 2019

Rachel Morgan & Paul Ryb have been chosen to represent Great Britain in the upcoming International Blind Tennis Tournament in Spain. Organised by the International Blind Tennis Association in partnership with Spain’s Sound Tennis Foundation,the tournament is running from 12th –16th June and will see over 70 players from 15 different countries competing over the course of the week. The tournament is open to players from B1 – B4 classifications, with B4 players’ part of the official competition for the first time this year.
 Rachel and Paul are among eight British visually impaired tennis players that have been selected to contest in the 2019 International Blind Tennis Tournament in Benidorm next month.  Rachel will compete in the B1 category for players who have no useful vision. Rachel is coached by Middlesex Tennis Disability Coordinator Mark Bullock at Ealing Tennis Club and the National Tennis Centre.  Paul will compete in the B3 category andplays at Islington Tennis Centre with other visually impaired and sighted players.      
 Surrey’s Odette Batterall, an LTA qualified level 2 coach, who plays her tennis at Islington and the National Tennis Centre will be representing France and Naqi Rizvi who plays at the Globe Tennis Club, Highgate Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club, and Islington Tennis Centre will represent Pakistan.
 Speaking ahead of the event, Morgan – who won gold in the B1 ladies’ category last year commented:
I am delighted to have been re-selected this year.  It is a privilege to walk on to court to represent your country, but moreover to be part of such a closely knit team. We are going on the back of a very strong performance last year and Ihope I can equal my previous outcome and retain my title. I am very much looking forward to cheering on my teammates and being a part of the GB team again!

 

Echoing Morgan’s comments, Ryb, who also won gold in the men’s B3 category added:

 

Playing for the GB team is truly realising a boyhood dream.  VI Tennis is fast fun, competitive and inspiring bringing together a wonderful community of support enabling us all to live and succeed with sight loss. I am very proud to hold a world title from last year’s Dublin event and look forward to building on that this year in Spain!

 

Batterall commented:

 

I am very excited and honoured to be able to represent my country at an international event, I never dreamed this would ever happen to me. I am also looking forward to meeting all the other tennis players from around the world and share experiences and exchange ideas. I am so pleased that Blind tennis has inspired so many others to take up this sport , a big thank you to Takei who invented blind tennis and like him we all hope it will become a Paralympic sport one day!

 

Rizvi added:

 

I cannot wait to give my best again and be a part of this magnificent event which brings the best tennis players from around the world together. I hope that I've improved and I hope to bring amedal back home this year.

 

Managed by the LTA, this year’s team will be looking to better last year’s impressive result, where Great Britain returned home with six golds and one silver medal.
The Head Coach is Louise Assioun, who led a B1 Camp at Islington earlier in the year.
 
With ambitions to become a Paralympic sport in the future, the visually impaired version of tennis is adapted from the fullcourt version to a smaller court. It also uses an audible ball so players can hear it bounce and being hit, and, depending on an individual’s sight level,they can also be allowed up to three bounces before they must return it back to their opponent.
 
For further information on visually impaired tennis in Middlesex contact Mark at mark.bullock@middlesextennis.org.uk
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