European Tennis Day 2014 was celebrated in Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Luxembourg, Romania, Spain and
Turkey. Tennis stars that supported the day
included Hungary's Agnes Szavay, Russia's Anastasia Myskina and
Alex Lisiecki, coach to Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.
Many people with an intellectual disability are often not given
the chance to participate in tennis due to being seen by their
peers as 'different' or 'without ability'. The Special Olympics
European Tennis Day brought the European tennis community together
to create more opportunities for people with intellectual
disabilities in the sport as well as celebrating the athletes'
abilities. Unified Tennis® matches and experiences were highlights
of the day giving young people with and without intellectual
disabilities the opportunity to compete together and enjoy the
benefit of friendship on and off the court.
Regional President of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia, Mary
Davis said: "European Tennis Day provided a fantastic
opportunity for everyone involved in tennis to promote respect,
acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities.
As we enjoy Wimbledon this month, European Tennis Day was
a timely opportunity for all to show their support for Special
Olympics athletes. Thanks to the generosity of Tennis Europe
there was an exciting schedule of events
across Europe on June 16th and I look forward to European Tennis Day becoming an annual event."
Mr Jacques Dupres of Tennis Europe said: “Tennis Europe is proud to support the Special Olympics European Tennis Day. It was a wonderful opportunity to bring the tennis community together in Europe in a strong show of support for players with intellectual disabilities. More opportunities create more awareness of the talents and abilities of Special Olympics athletes so we are very honoured to support this tennis initiative which I hope becomes an annual event.”
Tennis is one of the most popular of the 33 official sports
offered by Special Olympics with more than 4,000 registered tennis
players in 58 countries. This is just some of the action that took place on 2014 European
In Spain, every Rafa Nadal Foundation tennis centre celebrated the day with Unified Tennis tournaments involving Special Olympics athletes in the cities of Córdoba, Zaragoza, Palma de Mallorca, Manacor, Valladolid, Burgos, Palencia.
In Hungary six international Hungarian tennis stars held coaching clinics for Special Olympics athletes. Special Olympics Hungary Tennis Ambassador Agnes Szavay was joined by Gergely Kisgyörgy, Gábor Köves, László Markovits, Zsófia Gubacsi and Anikó Kapros to give athletes a Unified Tennis experience in Budapest. The day ended with a free concert from Hungarian star and Ambassador for Special Olympics Hungary ANITA.
In Luxembourg, Alex Lisiecki teamed up with
Gilles Muller's Luxembourg Davis Cup team mate Jacques Radoux, to
lead an open tennis day on the courts of TC Stade with athletes. It was followed
by a Unified Tennis experience with Luxembourg tennis stars Alex
Knaff, Eden Change, Nina Radioux and Lou Thomé pairing up with
Special Olympics athletes in a doubles exhibition matches.