The Northumberland Club in Jesmond hosted 32 players from all over the country, at the 2016 Adderstone Foundation Blind and Visually Impaired Regional Tennis Tournament - Northumberland.
The highly anticipated tournament took place on the weekend of 14th and 15th May 2016. The North East team who operate regularly as (NEVITC) North East Visually Impaired Tennis Club had a number of their own players taking part, including Rosie Pybus who lifted the trophy in the Ladies B4 singles.
Over the last four years Adderstone Foundation have continued to be key supporters of the NEVITC. The club which is based in both Sunderland and Newcastle and was founded in 2010 by coach Wendy Glasper, aims to provide and promote opportunities for people who are blind or have severe visual impairments to participate in tennis.
NEVITC have gone from strength to strength winning several awards in the last few years, including the North East Disability Club of the Year and the prestigious Simon Bates Community Club of the Year, which was presented at the Annual Sport Newcastle awards. The club now has 20 regular members, the largest VI club outside of London.
This was the first year that umpires from the Association of British Tennis Officials attended and umpired the matches. In addition, over 20 volunteers helped make the 2016 championships one to remember.
Players competed in various different sight classifications from B1 (for players with little or no sight) through to B4 and B5 who have less severe but often equally challenging visually impairment. Players use a sound ball (which rattles upon bouncing), a shortened tennis court and are allowed one, two or three bounces of the ball, dependent on their sight classification. B1 players must wear a blindfold which ensures that all players face exactly the same conditions.
The Northumberland Championships had many of the best players from all over the country and the moto of ‘friendly off court but fiercely competitive on court’ was very much in evidence during the two days of competition. National Men's Champions, Paul Ryb and Nikhil Nair won the B3 and B1 categories respectively whilst the North East was represented in the winner’s gallery with Rosie Pybus lifting the trophy in the Ladies B4 singles.
Graeme Manwell, Chairman of NEVITC reflected on the championship: “This was without doubt the highest standard of blind and visually impaired tennis ever witnessed in the North East of England and it has been a privilege to play a part in this year’s competition.
“For me the most satisfying aspect has been witnessing the huge improvements which all players have made in the twelve months since last year’s event. The standard has risen several notches across the board and the B1 event provided some outstanding blind tennis. All players who competed have now qualified for the National Finals, which will be held in Roehampton in September and I’m already relishing the prospect of witnessing some extraordinary matches in London!”
To find more information about the NEVITC visit www.nevitc.org.uk. NEVITC are always looking for dedicated volunteers to help at training sessions or tournaments. The Club is open to any individual who has suffered any form of sight loss and guarantees a warm welcome to all attendees. They hold indoor training sessions across the North East in Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough.