The ‘Tennis Challenge in Celebration of Eunice 100’, led by Special Olympics Hungary, was launched this week to mark 2021 as the 100th anniversary of the birth of our founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Tennis was a sport that Eunice loved, and the aim of the challenge is to nurture and grow that same love of tennis in athletes across the world. With 12 short and easy-to-follow training videos to be release over the coming months, it will help players improve their skills wherever they are—at home, in a park, anywhere!
Developed by Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Tennis Advisor, Kata Orban-Sebestyen, and supported by former Women’s Tennis Association player and Special Olympics Hungary Ambassador, Zsófia Gubacsi, each unique training video is led by Special Olympics Hungary tennis champions, Zsombor Kelemen and Balázs Sárosi.
“The Special Olympics Hungary tennis team wants to celebrate Eunice Kennedy Shriver with this year-long project. There are almost 30 countries in Europe Eurasia that have a tennis programme and this online tennis challenge, as well as a series of webinars, aims to connect tennis players and coaches during this unique time. The project launches in May, continues in August and finishes in November.”
Although Zsombor Kelemen—who won gold in tennis at the Special Olympics World Games in LA in 2015 and silver at the World Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019—helped create the training programme, he is still keen to follow the sessions himself at home. He says, “I can practise tennis at home and have fun with my friend Balázs with these exercises!”
Although COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are gradually easing in some parts of the world, many Special Olympics athletes still face limitations when it comes to training and competing. This challenge offers them another way to stay active while still staying safe.
Miroslaw Krogulec, Senior Director of Sport for Special Olympics Europe Eurasia, notes, “This virtual challenge is to motivate Special Olympics players to keep practising tennis skills individually, with still very limited access to sports facilities. It helps them to stay fit and get ready to return to the courts soon, with new skills, more energy and with love to tennis."
The first four training videos are currently available. Tennis players across the world are encouraged to follow the series and then share their own videos on social media, using the hashtags #Eunice100Tennis and #EKS100. More training exercises will be published in August 2021 so watch this space!