The inclusion of wheelchair tennis as a full medal sport in 1992 put it firmly into the public eye as an entertaining and physically demanding activity for players from all over the world. Fifteen nations were represented in the men's draw of 32 players with 15 of the world's Top 20 men competing.
The women's draw comprised 16 players from nine nations including the top six women in the world. The event took place from 4-12 September at the Vall D'Hebron site in Barcelona, which had witnessed the thrill and excitement of the Olympic Tennis Event just two weeks before.
Snow takes first gold
It was to be the semifinal match between Randy Snow and Abde Naili which set the tournament alight and was heralded as "one of the best wheelchair tennis matches of all time". In front of a capacity crowd of 6,000, Naili and Snow played inspirational tennis in a constant battle for that all-important place in the final.
The crowd often showed their appreciation for the quality of play by applauding too early, as the players displayed tremendous agility around the court to retrieve balls on the second bounce and sustain the rally. But it was Snow who eventually took the match and the place in the final after two and a half hours of constant tension, 67 64 63.
The other semifinal proved to be a different story. Twenty-four year old Kai Schrameyer of Germany, who had only been playing wheelchair tennis for two years, defeated the second seed, Laurent Giammartini of France in straight sets, 62 62. It was the first time Schrameyer had ever defeated Giammartini.
The final created a first in wheelchair tennis history, being shown live on television. Schrameyer took the first set 6-2 in less than half an hour and appeared to be in control. But Snow proved his mental toughness once again by battling back to win the second set 6-4. Finally it was to be Snow who triumphed taking the third set 6-4, claiming the first ever Paralympic tennis gold medal 26 64 64.
Dutch women prove best
No one would be surprised to see an all-Dutch final in the women's draw. Monique van den Bosch and Chantal Vandierendonck were the world No. 1 and 2 at the time and between them had taken every title in the run up to the Paralympics. But the route to the final was not perhaps as smooth as they might have wished.
Van den Bosch had to survive two match points in the third set but finally went on to defeat Olson 63 46 76. Vandierendonck didn't drop a set en route to the final but came closest in the quarterfinal against Oristelle Marx of France whom she finally defeated 61 75.
However, van den Bosch proved too strong in the gold medal match. In typical fashion, Vandierendonck battled to the end but van den Bosch's consistency and placement substantiated her world No. 1 ranking to win 63 64 and take the gold.
Doubles follows form guide
The final between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the men’s event lasted three hours and epitomised the variety and excitement of wheelchair tennis doubles. Caillier and Giammartini of France tried everything to counteract the American onslaught of Parks and Snow, eventually managing to take the second set tie-break 9-7 to level the match.
Caillier in particular was under tremendous pressure with the American pair hitting to his side of the court at every opportunity. Eventually their tactics paid off with Snow and Parks taking home gold for the USA 64 67(7) 63.
The women's draw was a little more predictable. With only six doubles teams, the Dutch women from the singles final paired up and were always expected to dominate and true to form they reached the final without even dropping a set. They went on to take gold from the US pair of Nancy Olson and Lynn Seidemann 62 63.
All the participants agreed on one thing: at the time, this was the best wheelchair tennis event ever held. The organisation was perfect; full crews of umpires, linesmen and ball boys for every match, computer analyses of every match, packed stadiums of enthusiastic spectators and a level of play that had never been seen before in international competition.
"When I was standing on the podium, I felt like a window had opened to my soul and for a moment, every positive emotion I had ever felt flowed through it… I cried." ~ Randy Snow after winning gold in Barcelona 1992.
Men's singles Men's doubles
- Gold: Randy Snow (USA) - Gold: Brad Parks / Randy Snow (USA)
- Silver: Kai Schrameyer (GER) - Silver: Thierry Caillier / Laurent Giammartini (FRA)
- Bronze: Laurent Giammartini (FRA) - Bronze: Stefan Bitterauf / Kai Schrameyer (GER)
Women's singles Women's doubles
- Gold: Monique Van Den Bosch (NED) - Gold: Monique Van Den Bosch /
Chantal Vandierendonck (NED)
- Silver: Chantal Vandierendonck (NED) - Silver: Nancy Olson / Lynn Seidemann (USA)
- Bronze: Regina Isecke (GER) - Bronze: Oristelle Marx / Arlette Racineux (FRA)