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 and 12 in Santiago, Chile. Thirty-four athletes traveled from South Africa, Mexico, Portugal, Argentina, Columbia, Brazil, and the United States to compete. Jeff Bourns of Houston was the only U.S. player to participate.
Bourns has 25 years of experience as a competitive tennis player. He has a right knee disarticulation and is the first stand-up adaptive tennis player to serve on the United States Tennis Association (USTA) of Texas Adaptive Tennis Committee. He is charged with helping the sport to grow and is also a tennis pro, helping others with lower-limb amputations learn to play or improve their game.
Classifications in the TAP tournament were based on skill level rather on amputation level, said Bourns. For instance, someone with a lower-limb amputation might be matched against a competitor with an arm amputation. “It was something I hadn’t experienced, but I liked it because the overall goal with what we are doing right now [with adaptive tennis] is to say I can play anybody that is put in front of me, even if it’s an able-bodied person.”
Typically, a tennis match consists of two or three sets that must be played against a competitor to move forward in the bracket. However, the TAP tournament was set up with a one-set round-robin format 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 he woke up with a bruised left side and was unable to play to his full capacity, and was subsequently knocked out of the tournament, with a ranking of eighth.
“It was a really great experience,” Bourns said. “The talent that I saw was incredible.”