Record entries for Australian Blind and Low Vision Championships
The annual Australian Blind and Low Vision Championships begin at Melbourne Park today.
A total of 34 Blind and Low Vision (BLV) players, from across every Australian state, will contest the 2023 Australian Blind and Low Vision Championships.
The annual three-day event, held at Melbourne Park, begins today and concludes on Sunday.
BLV tennis is played with an adapted foam ball that can be heard rattling across the court. The courts are also smaller, with lines on the court raised to mark certain boundaries.
Several different categories exist, catering for athletes with varying degrees of visual acuity.
“It’s great to get these players together in a community where they can feel safe, have fun and just go out there and be themselves. I think that’s really special,” Danielle Gescheit, Tennis Australia’s Head of Players with Disability, said.
“It’s also great for them to compete. They are all really competitive, just like any tennis player. Having an opportunity to go out and do their best, as well as represent their state, is really important.”
Gescheit is particularly pleased to see the number of junior competitors rise to 13.
“It’s good to see that growth,” she said. “Some of the juniors will also play in the men’s and women’s divisions as well, so it’s really pleasing to see that progression too.”
Arato Katsuda-Green, an 11-year-old from New South Wales, is one of the juniors testing themselves in the open division.
“I just like playing matches,” Katsuda-Green said. “So I’m playing juniors, open B4 singles and open B4 doubles.
“I like that all the adults that I play don’t actually treat me as a kid.”
Mark Haskett from South Australia is hoping to defend his title in the B2 men’s singles division.
“I’ve certainly been working on my game and trying to develop new ways to get past opponents. Fingers crossed it all clicks,” he said.
“I was actually meant to be in Cairns this weekend with family, but we were able to move things around so I could get here to play. I wouldn’t miss one of these tournaments for the world.”
It has been a big week for both Katsuda-Green and Haskett, who were named in an 11-member Australian team for the IBSA World Games in Great Britain next month.
The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Games are the largest high-level international event for athletes with a visual impairment and will be held in Birmingham from 18-27 August.
Australian tennis legend John Fitzgerald presented the team with their national uniforms at Melbourne Park yesterday.
“As a young kid growing up, it was a dream to play for Australia,” Haskett said. “To be able to do it in tennis is a huge honour.”
Book online, play today: Visit play.tennis.com.au to get out on court and have some fun!