Debut wheelchair tennis tournament advocates inclusion
The student-run organization Adaptive Athletics at UH looks to further promote awareness and opportunities within the community with physical disabilities Friday when it kicked off the first open wheelchair tournament sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association.
“This broadens a lot of people’s perspectives on campus in a way we have been very accustomed to at UH,” said Michael Cottingham, director of Adaptive Athletics and assistant professor in the department of health and human performance.
Cottingham said that sports offers “a really nice, visible presentation of disability.”
“Whether it’s the LGBT community, race, ethnicity or gender, disability is now a big part of that discussion and sports is such a great avenue because it’s something our society holds in such high regard,” Cottingham said.
Times for the 2016 Cougar Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament include 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday as well as 9:30 a.m. to noon Sunday. All matches will take place at the Memorial Park Tennis Center.
Officials are expecting competitors of all skill levels to gather from around the state and country to improve their national USTA ranking.
“Rugby has been a very established sport within the Adaptive Athletics program, and we decided it was time to move on (and add) the tennis program because tennis is a very different sport,” said Samantha Kwan, associate professor of sociology and tournament director. “We were interested in developing this because you can get more people involved and at many different levels.”
The tournament boasts 19 competitors that will compete in different categories based on their mobility and skill level.
Supply chain and logistics technology senior Carlos Salinas is one of three UH students competing in the tournament. He uses his motto, “Keep moving forward,” as a motivator to continue pressing on no matter the circumstances.
“This weekend, I just want to go out there and have fun,” Salinas said. “Whatever you’re dealing with, it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about going out there and giving it your all, because if you believe then you can achieve.”