UH Adaptive Athletics to host eighth annual wheelchair tennis tournament
The University of Houston’s Adaptive Athletics program is hosting the eighth edition of the Cougar Open, a wheelchair tennis tournament, from April 20 through 23 at Memorial Park Tennis Center.
“We’re really excited to host this,” said UH Adaptive Athletics program director Michael Cottingham. “It’s a chance for the University to showcase and support disability sport.”
Putting on the Cougar Open is a way for the UH Adaptive Athletics program to put its primary goal into action.
“This program is part of a system that really actively changes the lives of our participants,” Cottingham said. “Our goal is to get all of our local players to wherever they want to be in life, and we use sport as a means to get there.”
The tournament, which is entirely student-run, will feature a professional division with a prize pool of $14,000 provided by Dallas Wheelchair Tennis Club, a partner of the event.
Ethan Bui and Gabriel Gutierrez, the two coaches of UH’s Adaptive Athletics tennis program both highlighted the level of talent of the athletes that will be competing in the tournament’s professional division, which is governed by the International Tennis Federation.
“We have some of the top athletes in the world competing in our tennis tournament this year,” Bui said.
The professional division will feature professional players from 14 countries including Colombia, Ecuador, Japan and the United Kingdom along with one athlete from UH’s Adaptive Athletics program.
In the past, the Cougar Open has been a springboard for players to help some of the elite athletes go on to qualify for Grand Slam events in wheelchair tennis.
“The futures of tomorrow come and play in our tournament,” Cottingham said.
There will also be a recreational division as well as a youth or juniors division that features many local players from across the state of Texas.
The Cougar Open is open to the public for spectatorship and the best way for people to learn more about adaptive athletics in general, according to Gutierrez.
“When you come to Cougar Open you will be able to watch great matches, learn more about the community, interact with players, and have a great time,” Gutierrez said.