woman playing gtennis

Standing adaptive tennis gains traction as an inclusive sport for people with cerebral palsy

Written by Sophie Marmont, CPA Lived Experience Engagement Administrator and CP Quest Coordinator 

There’s an underground movement growing in popularity for people with a physical disability – standing adaptive tennis. Many people, including my husband, Anthony, and I who both have cerebral palsy, have found it to be the perfect inclusion sport for fun, fitness, and friendship. 

A few years ago, a CPA colleague and good friend, Marita Morgan (pictured above), who has cerebral palsy, announced she was going to manage City Community Tennis (CCT), which offers programs for all levels, from beginners to pros, adults and kids. Martia was going to develop their Saturday Adaptive Tennis Hub; a two-hour session of adaptive tennis on Saturday mornings for all levels from beginners to elite, including anyone with a disability (physical, intellectual, blind and vision impaired, Autism, and Deaf).  

Like Marita, Anthony and I are passionate about inclusive sport and participation. We started going and quickly realised that we wanted to play. However, as an ambulant person with CP, who is also a quad, I found I needed to stand up to ensure I had the coordination to play. When I tried to play in a sports wheelchair, my legs did not know what to do and I didn’t have the upper body strength alone. All four limbs need to work together, that’s the uniqueness and quirkiness of cerebral palsy! 

The fantastic coaches listened and adapted this program to what it is today. I have had many conversations with the coaches who I feel really listen to me and adapt and include me in their feedback to create an inclusive environment.  

The Saturday Adaptive Hub fast became our regular gig. My perfect Saturday morning is having a hit, a laugh, a great conversation, followed by brunch or lunch with my tennis friends. We are keen to spread the word so other people with a physical disability can come and try.  

Lady sitting with man and woman standing smiling and talking Sophie (pictured left), Anthony (middle), Marita (right)

Standing adaptive tennis gained momentum in September last year when eight players participated in a pilot tournament at City Community Tennis Prince Alfred Park Tennis Courts, organised by Tennis Australia and Marita.  In attendance was comedian and disability advocate Adam Hills who then joined Marita and others to advocate for the sport.  

Jump forward to January this year when competitors from Australia, Chile, Japan, Brazil and New Zealand gathered in Hawthorn, Melbourne for the first Oceania Para- Standing Championships. As a spectator this was an incredible three days of competition, friendship, fun and learning and a pathway to competitive tennis for people with a physical disability was officially born.  

After our three days, we met up at the Australian Open on All Abilities Day, promoted by former World number 1 Dylan Alcott and current World Number 3 Heath Davidson. It was here that I realised this small movement had really started getting some traction. This passionate, excited and talented group of players led by Adam Hills hit the Margaret Court Arena to highlight what standing adaptive tennis is and where, as a group, we are heading.  

City Community Tennis now has a good foundation, and a clear pathway for those who want to go on to compete, while still providing a unique community that ticks the boxes of being about fun, fitness and friendship. 

Want to get involved?

We are keen to grow the hub for people with cerebral palsy and invite people with CP who have an interest in tennis, regardless of your age, ability, goals and aspiration to come on down and give it a go. 

The next tournament for those already playing will be held at Prince Alfred Park, Surrey Hills on March 15, 16 and 17 with a “Come and Try Day ” on the 17 March from 12-2pm.  

If you want to start playing contact Marita marita@citycommunitytennis.com.au  or talk to your local tennis coach. Marita can also organise a “come and try day” at your local tennis centre.