Wheelchair tennis made its debut at the Paralympics with a demonstration event in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. After numerous late night meetings with the Seoul Paralympic Organising Committee at Stoke Mandeville, England, in the spring of 1988, John Noakes of ISMWSF and the ICC was granted permission to organise a wheelchair tennis demonstration event. If successful, this would lead to wheelchair tennis becoming a full competitive sport at the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona.
The Korean Tennis Association, without any previous knowledge of wheelchair tennis, did everything possible to make this event a success. The ITF sent a high ranking official, Eiichi Kawatei, to see if the event was professionally organised and to report back as to whether the sport was ready for inclusion in the next Paralympics.
The four men and four women who took part were chosen as competitors based on their results at the US Open Championships in California in 1988. The referee was Moon-il Kim of the Seoul Paralympic Organising Committee and the IPC Technical Delegate was John Noakes, who was ably assisted by Jules Vandierendonck of the Netherlands and Sasson Aharoni of Israel. The ITF rules of tennis, including the recently introduced Two Bounce Rule, applied. The matches were the best of three sets. The Korean Tennis Association supplied ball boys and umpires.
At 9am on Saturday 22 October, the ladies' singles semifinals began and resulted in easy wins for Monique van den Bosch and Chantal Vandierendonck of the Netherlands over Terry Lewis of the USA and Ellen de Lange of the Netherlands respectively.
The men's semifinals produced a dramatic match between Chip Turner of the USA and Mick Connell of Australia. After sharing two exiting tie-breaks, Connell increased his level of play to ensure an easy third set victory, taking the match 67(7) 76(3) 60. In the other semifinal, Laurent Giammartini of France was too strong for Sasson Aharoni of Israel, whom he defeated without the loss of a game.
Laurent Giammartini made full use of his powerful topspin forehand and backhand in the men's final to take the gold medal 62 62, from Mick Connell.
The ladies' final was a long three set match between the two best players in the world in 1988. Monique van den Bosch had just beaten Chantal Vandierendonck for the first time at the US Open a few weeks earlier and she dominated the first nine games, taking a 6-0 3-0 lead. However, Vandierendonck once again showed her fantastic mental strength by winning 12 of the next 15 games and so securing the gold medal.
Since there were no play-off's for third and fourth place, at the Medal Ceremony, gold, silver and two bronze medals were presented to the competitors.
The way was now open to Barcelona and the fulfilment of a dream for John Noakes and wheelchair players everywhere.
Gold Medal: Laurent Giammartini (FRA)
Silver Medal: Mick Connell (AUS)
Bronze Medal: Sasson Aharoni (ISR) / Chip Turner (USA)
Gold Medal: Chantal Vandierendonck (NED)
Silver Medal: Monique van den Bosch (NED)
Bronze Medal: Ellen de Lange (NED) / Terry Lewis (USA)