GRAND RAPIDS - "I had no preconceived notion of what tennis was so the first time I played it, I was in a wheelchair and that's kind of all I know," says tour veteran Bryan Barten.
Surprisingly, many of these players had never played tennis before they got into their wheelchairs, now they are some of the best in the world. This weekend, Grand Rapids is hosting the Midwest Wheelchair Tennis Championships.
"This event attracts athletes from all over the world and this event is the biggest we've had," says Alicia Hass, Mary Free Bed wheelchair sports coordinator, "76 athletes registered."
It has all the same rules as regular tennis, except the ball is allowed to bounce twice before it is returned. The entire sport is done sitting down, in a wheelchair, still with a racket in your hand and a ball coming quickly.
"People always say, of my gosh, I could never hold the racket and push the chair and it's like any other sport, you learn how to play it," says Jocelyn Detloff.
"The hardest part about wheelchair tennis in the beginning is the mobility figuring out where to move your chair, where you have to be you have to be constantly moving in this sport," says Barten, " so hitting the ball that's eye hand coordination but moving the chair, that's a little difficult."
Jocelyn Detloff and Bryan Barten are local players in the tournament. Jocelyn is a part of the Mary Free Bed Tennis team here in town while Bryan has competed in two Paralympic games and is currently ranked #9 in the world. As he works to make Team USA for Tokyo in a few years, he has his eyes set on a 7 championship here and his fourth straight.
"I'm defending champion so I'm hoping to retain my title here this weekend," says Barten.
Competition continues through the weekend at MVP-Crahen with matches beginning at 8:30 AM. Admission is free to the public.
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