Through the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund (WTDF), the ITF aims to establish long-lasting wheelchair tennis programmes in developing countries, providing disabled children and adults with opportunities to enjoy an active and rewarding life.
Launched in 2002 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of wheelchair tennis in 2001, the ITF introduced the Wheelchair Tennis Silver Fund, with the aim of establishing wheelchair tennis projects in countries that are otherwise not able to embrace it.
During the 2012 Doubles Masters the ITF rebranded the Fund as the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund. For more information click here. In 2013 the Fund won first place at the Sport Accord Spirit of the Sport Awards. It has supported work in 42 countries worldwide. The map below shows countries that have benefitted by the end of 2012.
Over a period of two years, the ITF helps each country to set up a sustainable wheelchair tennis programme. This assistance involves sending a coach to the country for a period of two to four weeks to lay the groundwork for the programme.
The visiting coaches work with local players and coaches in intensive training sessions, hold clinics and exhibitions, meet with the local partners (tennis federation or disabled sports association), set up development plans that are in line with local needs, visit rehabilitation centres, tennis clubs, schools and universities, talk to the media and potential sponsors, etc.
At the end of the two-year period the programmes are expected to be self-sustainable and gradually joining in the great array of worldwide international competition opportunities.
The countries that have already passed through the initial two-year period are now boasting successful wheelchair tennis programmes run locally, which are also linked into the international network. South Africa, for example, has not only participated in the BNP Paribas World Team Cup, the Cruyff Foundation International Junior Camp in Europe and the Paralympic Games, but also hosts international competitions.
There are many ways to support the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund, from financial assistance to donating material, time and other resources that are available to you. The ITF is not only looking for actual funding, but is also aiming to make this a project for the whole of the wheelchair tennis community. Therefore, if you are a player, a coach, or represent a member nation or tournament, please do not hesitate to contact us if you think you can help.