Knokke-Heist Wheelchair Tournament for Kent Sport honorary members

Kent Sport is proud to be able to support local wheelchair tennis players, Ruben Harris and Ellen Tribley, through their weekly training sessions in our Kent Indoor Tennis and Events Arena with professional LTA coaches, and also while competing internationally.


Our Tennis Development Manager, Nick Skelton, was able to attend the ITF tournament at Knokke-Heist in Belgium on his day off to support Ellen and Ruben during their matches. It was a great opportunity for Nick to broaden his own knowledge and experience in this area – both in terms of traveling with a family to a tournament and seeing and understanding the issues around wheelchair tennis with experienced coaches in this field, ahead of our plan to offer more opportunities to local people with disabilities in the coming months.


Ruben has had some good results recently in both singles and doubles while playing in France, Germany, and the Netherlands in particular. This week, in Belgium, he reached the final of the singles and won the doubles event with his partner Maxi. Ellen reached the quarter-finals and both players are clearer on what they want to improve on in the coming months and years of their personal development. Ellen and Ruben have such positive outlooks on their own personal development that it is really inspiring to be around them. Both players take on challenges and see them as opportunities to excel.


The competing wheelchair tennis community has a real family feel to it. Many competitors have physical conditions that can affect them during match play. There are often mechanical issues with chairs as well so it was wonderful to see parents supporting each other’s children as well as their own to enable all the children to continue competing when unexpected circumstances arise.


This event was the largest of its type for wheelchair tennis with 37 participants taking part from all around the world including Japan, the US, Latvia, and many other nations. The tournament was hosted by the very experienced coach Christophe Verhaeghe in partnership with a local IBIS hotel to accommodate and host the evening meals and presentations.


We very much hope to host similar events in the future as the facilities we have here at the University of Kent are actually better than those used last week in Belgium. We already have two great ambassadors in Ellen and Ruben to help promote the sport and attract these international players, which in turn we hope would inspire many more local people to pick up a racquet and find their sport for life.


Please visit our website for more information about Tennis at the University of Kent.


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