ITHF To Induct Wheelchair Tennis Athletes and Administrators

NEWPORT, R.I. -

The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum today announced that it will honor wheelchair tennis athletes and administrators with induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. This major expansion of eligible individuals is in addition to the traditional Hall of Fame induction categories of Recent Players, Master Players and Contributors.

International Tennis Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher E. Clouser said, "Wheelchair Tennis has made great strides in its development around the world, and there are many players and administrators who deserve recognition for their accomplishments. This is an important initiative of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and our Board of Directors, to honor these individuals beginning with the next class of International Tennis Hall of Fame inductees in 2010."

Wheelchair Tennis was founded in 1976 and is still one of the fastest growing wheelchair sports in the world. Wheelchair tennis integrates very easily with the able-bodied game of tennis since it can be played on any regular tennis court, with no modifications to racquets and balls. Wheelchair tennis also follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis, endorsed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The only exception to this is that the wheelchair tennis player is allowed two bounces of the ball. To be eligible to compete, a player must have a medically diagnosed permanent mobility-related physical disability, which must result in a substantial loss of function in one or both lower extremities.

Wheelchair Tennis also has an international tour. The NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour originated in 1992 with 11 international tournaments, but has grown in size and popularity with currently over 150 events taking place in 37 countries. In addition, the world's leading wheelchair tennis players now compete for maximum world ranking points and prize money at all four Grand Slam events. While the sport undergoes new innovations, one thing is certain - wheelchair tennis has become arguably the most revered of international disability sports for its professionalism and integration with its mainstream counterpart.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame has three categories for induction with election based on a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level and consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character. There are two categories for players: the Recent Player category is for those who were active in the sport within the last 20 years, but not a significant factor on the ATP (men's), WTA (women's) and Wheelchair Tennis tours within five years prior to induction; the Master Player category is for those players that have been retired from the sport for at least 20 years. A Contributor category recognizes administrators, coaches, officials, and members of the media, whose exceptional contributions have furthered the growth, reputation and character of the sport of tennis and wheelchair tennis. Nominees in the Contributor category do not need to be retired from their activities related to the sport.

All nominations submitted will be reviewed by the Hall of Fame's Eligibility Committee. All nominations must be received on or before April 15, 2009 for induction eligibility in 2010. The ballot for 2010 induction will be announced during the this year's US Open, and those elected by the Hall of Fame's voting panels will be announced in January 2010. The official induction ceremony will take place in July 2010 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island.

Tennisfame.com online nomination links:

 

About the International Tennis Hall of Fame
Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. The International Tennis Hall of Fame was recognized as the sport’s official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.

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