Celebrating European Tennis Day 2014

The inaugural Special Olympics 2014 European Tennis Day took place across Europe on June 16th.

Game, Set, Match for Special Olympics

Professional player Zsofia Gubacsi and a Special Olympics Hungary tennis player Tünde Varga celebrate success at the net. Gubascsi was No. 76 in the Women’s Professional Tennis Ranking (2002), twenty-five times a Fed Cup player, and twice Women’s Tennis Association Tour champion.

The inaugural Special Olympics European Tennis Day took place across Europe. More than 2000 players with intellectual disabilities participated in tennis events across 10 countries. European Tennis Day was supported by Tennis Europe and a host of National Tennis Federations and professional tennis players.

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 Tennis Day:

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.

Great Tennis Action

Tennis Day action in Istanbul 

In Moscow, Russian tennis stars Anastasia Myskina and Mikhail Youzhny took part in a celebrity unified tennis tournament with Special Olympics athletes in a day of activities supported by the Eltzin Foundation.  

In Istanbul, similar events took place on the courts of the Swiss Hotel on the shores of the Bosphorus while in Israel, six tennis centres across the city of Tel Aviv hosted Special Olympics athletes for tennis competitions and celebrity unified matches.

In Bulgaria Special Olympics Bulgaria organised a major press conference on June 15th involving representatives of the Bulgarian Tennis Federation, tennis celebrities and Special Olympics players to promote European Tennis Day and the national 'Access to All' initiative formed between SO Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Tennis Federation to promote tennis for players with intellectual disabilities.



Tennis Europe

Tennis Day in Romania held at Constantin Paunescu school in Teccuci involving 12 Special Olympics athletes

About Tennis Europe: Tennis Europe, comprised of 49 European member nations, is the largest regional association of the sport's governing body, the International Tennis Federation. Based in Basel, Switzerland, the organisation takes an active role in all aspects of the European game, executing tasks delegated by the ITF, and also by organizing a number of competitions and events independently from the ITF, such as European Tennis Championships. Visit www.tenniseurope.org