Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

“Ready?” “Yes.” “Play!” Part 2: Some History on Blind Tennis in the United States

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

Blind tennis just scored an ace in Australia last week. Their inaugural 2022 Blind and Low-vision Championship, “the first national event of its kind,” according to Blind Tennis Victoria, was held from September 30 to October 2, 2022. To mark this occasion, and in a continuation of our series on blind tennis, this article explores some recent history of the sport in the United States, going back to 2010. At that time, Sejal Vallabh, a student at Yale University, founded Tennis Serves, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching blind tennis to children and adults who are blind and visually impaired, after experiencing the sport during a summer internship in Tokyo. Her organization operates in California, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut. It was profiled in this article from The New York Times in 2012, this one by the Wall Street Journal in 2013, and this TEDx talk given by Vallabh in 2015. Tennis Serves has a Facebook page, although it has been inactive since 2015. Also in 2015, Court 16 developed a blind tennis instruction program on Long Island and in Queens, New York. While not much has been published on it recently, their Facebook page does appear active, and this article from CBS New York provides some background. Finally, Lolina Fernandez, the current representative for the United States to the International Blind Tennis Association Executive Committee, founded Eyes of Hope (Miradas de Esperanza), “which works with children learning blind tennis both in the United States and in Mexico,” according to this page from the American Printing House. While countries such as Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom may feature blind tennis more prominently, the U.S. has had a variety of programs spring up just in the last twelve years. Future articles will cover the current state of these programs.