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National Visually Impaired Tennis Championships take place in Loughborough for first time

Nikhil Nair is one of those taking part in the Championships Credit: Tennis Foundation

The National Visually Impaired Tennis Championships are taking place in Loughborough for the very first time this weekend.

Loughborough University are hosting the Championships due to the rapid increase in the number of players playing visually impaired tennis.

There are around 55 players bidding for men's and women's singles and doubles titles in B1 to B4 sight categories, with B1 players having the greatest degree of sight loss.

Yvette Priestley from Birmingham will be one of those taking part. She competes in the B1 category for those with the greatest degree of sight loss.

The 41-year-old represented Great Britain in the first ever international blind and visually impaired tennis tournament in Spain earlier this year.

Yvette Priestley (right) from Birmingham will be one of those taking part. Credit: Tennis Foundation

The event at Loughborough University is being run by a charity called the Tennis Foundation.

Kirsty Thomson, the Tennis Foundation's Disability Tournament Director, said:

The Tennis Foundation has supported an increasing number of blind and visually impaired tennis sessions across the country in the last few years and record participation numbers have resulted in us not only needing to find a new venue for this year's National Championship, but we are also able to stage separate singles events across all sight categories from B1 to B4 for men and women players.

This is great news for the continued evolution and future of visually impaired tennis.

– Kirsty Thomson
Chris Bailey is another player who will be taking part in the Championships Credit: Tennis Foundation

The Tennis Foundation has put together some facts about Visually Impaired Tennis:

  • It is one of the fastest growing disability sports and has ambitions to become a future Paralympic sport
  • It is adapted from the full court version of tennis to a smaller court, marked out with lower nets
  • It uses an audible ball so players can hear it bounce
  • Players compete in different categories, with B1 having the greatest degree of sight loss
  • Depending on a player's category they are allowed between one and three bounces of the ball