Blind/vision impaired tennis is for blind or partially sighted people. It is played on a smaller court, with lower nets and using an audible ball so players can hear it bounce and being hit. The audible ball normally has a bell inside it. There are tactile markings on all the lines on the court, except the service box line, that players can feel with their feet. Depending on the player’s sight level they can have up to three bounces of the ball before they must return it back to their opponent.
In May 2018 Ireland hosted the World Blind Tennis Chamionship at Shankill Tennis Club, Dublin. 13 countries competed in the championships and the Irish time team came third in the medals after Britain and Mexico. The first blind/vi tennis team in Ireland was set up by Liam O’Donohoe, president of Lenister Tennis, at Shankill Tennis Club and since then teams have been set up in Cork, Sligo, Navan, Dundalk, Dublin( Shankill and DCU) and Belfast.
Sight Classifications for Blind/VI Tennis
- B1: This category covers people with no light perception in either eye up to people with light perception but with the inability to recognise shapes at any distance or in any direction
- B2 and B3: Both of these categories cover people with a low level of partial vision. People in the B3 category will be able to see more than those in the B2
- B4 and B5: This category is for players with up to 20% vision
For more information on the sight classifications for blind/vi tennis click here.
Rules of VI Tennis
In blind/vi tennis the ball is allowed to bounce multiple times depending on the players classification of visual impairment:
- B1 and B2 are allowed up to three bounces
- B3 is allowed up to two bounces
- B4 and B5 are allowed one bounce
When serving the ball all players must use the “ready” “yes” “play” procedure to allow their opponent know that they are about to serve the ball. They will ask their opponent if they are ready, confirm that they have replied “yes” and announce that they are about to begin play before serving.
Court size and net height
Depending on the players level of visual impairment the size of the court and the height of the net will change. For more information on the court dimensions and net height click here.
Where can I play VI Tennis in Ireland?
Blind/vi tennis groups currently run in Cork, Sligo, Navan, Dundalk, Dublin( Shankill and DCU) and Belfast.
If you are interested in finding out more you can call Liam O’Donohoe at the Shankill Tennis Club on 086 261 8931.
Below there is an information video on Blind/VI tennis classes in Ireland, created for Tennis Ireland by the RTÉ Nationwide programme.
For more information on Blind/VI tennis you can read an interview with blind tennis player Naqi Rizvi here.