PARALYMPIAN HOLDS WHEELCHAIR TENNIS COURSE
BY JUSTIN MARSHALL FOR THE DAILY GLEANER19 JUNE 2012
A wheelchair tennis coaching clinic was held in Fredericton on Sunday at Wilmot Tennis Club involving over 15 participants with one goal on their mind — to coach tennis to people with physical disabilities.
Kai Schrameyer, national development coach with Tennis Canada was in town showing future coaches how to teach people with a disability the technique to play wheelchair tennis and have fun doing it.
“It’s great to see how the guys get into it,” said Schrameyer. “It’s a different coaching and playing experience because it’s tennis, but it’s from a different position with the difficulties of coordinating the strokes with the mobility, so you can see on how they’re finding whole new ways to play.”
Schrameyer made all the participants learn from the comfort of a wheelchair so they can see the difficulty a person with a physical disability has hitting the ball and moving around to hit the shot.
“We’re hoping at the end of the day all the future coaches can learn the techniques and apply them to the beginners they teach,” he said.
Kenzie Vincent from Regina, Ssk., who recently moved to Fredericton, was one of the coaches who got his certification to coach wheelchair tennis.
“I tried it out last year in a wheelchair when Kai was in town and I fell in love with it,” said Vincent. “It’s so much fun to wheel around, spin and move your body like you do — it’s pretty cool.”
Vincent said in two weeks he’ll be taking over the wheelchair tennis program Tuesdays at Wilmot Park.
“What interests me in the sport so much is it’s really inclusive everybody can play it,” he said. “To get people out playing tennis like this is phenomenal, I have so much fun I can’t wait to make them have so much fun.”
Mark Thibault, executive director of Tennis New Brunswick, organized Schrameyer to visit and provide the coaching course.
“We started the Tuesday wheelchair tennis program but unfortunately we didn’t have coaches that were certified to work with the individuals,” he said. “It’s a huge opportunity to get some coaches in the sport around the area and when we start up again on Tuesday they will have a little more knowledge on what kind of drills and things they can do to teach the participants.”
The participants who took in the course Sunday were from Moncton, Saint John, Saskatchewan and Fredericton.
Schrameyer, originally from Germany, participated in three Paralympic Games winning silver in men’s singles and bronze in men’s doubles at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. He also won bronze in men’s doubles in Sydney in 2000.
Schrameyer lost his right leg from bone cancer when he was 15 years old. When he was first introduced to wheelchair tennis after his injury he didn’t like the sport because he said he wasn’t exposed to the best wheelchair tennis players at the time.
“I had the moment of enlightenment when I saw the best wheelchair tennis players in the world make some crazy shots and see how good he was that is when I got hooked,” he said.
Schrameyer said when one door closes in life so many others open.
“It’s up to you whether you want to step through that door or if you want to remain standing in front of the door that’s shut and my choice with the help of sport is my life can be just as good as an able bodied person.”