2015 Wounded Warrior tennis camp another huge success

September 28, 2015 01:01 PM

By Steve Kappes, special to USTAFoundation.com

For the fourth year in a row, the San Diego District Tennis Association, in partnership with Naval Medical Center San Diego and Balboa Tennis Club, hosted a national adaptive tennis camp for more than 50 wounded, ill and injured service members, veterans and their caregivers. 

Supported by the USTA Foundation, this event is the only one of its kind in the country, and it continues to receive accolades for its excellence and impact from participants and national organizations including the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The participants ranged in age from 20 to 91, came from 23 different states and represented all military branches and all major ethnic groups. Half had served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, some multiple times. Others had served in previous conflicts dating back to World War II. Their injuries ranged from double amputations and partial paralyses to those which are invisible such as traumatic brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As a result, there was a mix of wheelchair and ambulatory players. 

The majority of the participants were beginning tennis players, but after 12 hours of instruction from some of San Diego’s best pros, they were able to rally and compete in a friendly round-robin competition designed to pull together all the lessons of the week. 

In addition to the competition, the participants heard from motivational speakers from the Navy SEALs, Challenged Athletes Foundation, VA Medical Center and Naval Medical Center, all of whom provided encouragement and advice on moving forward. 

And while one of the goals of this program is to set wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans on a pathway to recovery by empowering them to play tennis when they return home, one of the equally important benefits is giving the participants the opportunity to meet and become friends with those who have had similar battlefield experiences and other physical and emotional challenges. 

The event was made possible by financial and in-kind donations from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USTA Foundation, local businesses, restaurants, community and veteran support organizations, tennis clubs and individuals. All the participants’ costs were covered, including airfare, lodging, meals, local transportation, tennis equipment and instruction, and evening social events. 

More than 50 enthusiastic volunteers from across San Diego county assisted with daily site set-up and breakdown, on-court assistance, airport transportation, meal preparation and service, medical care, massage therapy and more.  

For more information on this nationally recognized program, which includes ongoing free weekly tennis clinics for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans, visit www.sdwoundedwarriortennis.org and “Like Us” on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sdwoundedwarriorstennis



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