Stand-Up Adaptive Tennis Tournament in Chile Attracts “Incredible Talent”

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The third International Tournament TAP (Tenis Adaptado de Pie, or stand-up adaptive tennis) - Master Final, organized by the Paralympic Committee of Chile, was held December 11-12, 2015, in Santiago. Thirty-four athletes traveled from South Africa, Mexico, Portugal, Argentina, Columbia, Brazil, and the United States to compete.

Jeff Bourns of Houston, who has a right knee disarticulation, was the only U.S. player to participate. He has 25 years of experience as a competitive tennis player and is the first stand-up adaptive tennis player to serve on the United States Tennis Association of Texas Adaptive Tennis Committee.

Adaptive tennis player in action

A competitor leaps to return the ball. Photograph by Ana Rodriguez, courtesy of TAP.

Classifications in the TAP tournament were based on skill, not amputation levels, said Bourns. For instance, someone with lower-limb loss might be matched against someone with an arm amputation. The tournament was also set up with a one-set, round-robin format per match rather than the typical two or three sets per match.

In his first match, Bourns said his opponent tried to "sneak" a ball by him. "I had to lay out my backhand side and I landed on my ribs in the clay," he said. He lost that match but came back to win two more that day-despite two cracked ribs-and made it to the quarter-finals. The following day, though, he said his injury prevented him from playing to his full capacity, and the loss knocked him out of the tournament with a ranking of eighth.

"It was a really great experience," Bourns said. "The talent that I saw was incredible."