The 2nd JTB Wheelchair Tennis Global Challenge was held at San Diego State University in San Diego, California on January 5th and 6th, 2019. The event was hosted by Los Angeles based non-profit, B-Adaptive Foundation and brought together 12 wheelchair tennis athletes from Japan, Canada and the United States for a competitive yet friendly international competition.
The Japanese athletes arrived on January 2nd and were in San Diego for only five days, but maximized their short stay with sightseeing activities, matches and practice. They utilized the San Diego trolley system to go downtown and tour Petco Park home of the San Diego Padres and relaxed at the world famous Coronado Bay. Many times in Japan, the athletes have been inhibited by their disabilities but in San Diego they were able to have many new great experiences.
On the 3rd, the Japanese athletes practiced at Barnes Tennis Center and were surprised with a visit from wheelchair tennis legend David Wagner. He practiced alongside the young athletes and on top of learning from his elite skillset, they experienced how great of human being he is, serving as a great role model for younger athletes. The next day players from Canada and the United States arrived and the tournament began on the 5th with the three represented countries facing off in a competitive, yet friendly environment. The Japanese pairs were able to capture the most wins and came out on top after the first day.
A reception was held that evening, bringing together all athletes, coaches, sponsors, staff and volunteers. Although there was a language barrier between the athletes, that didn’t stop them for creating long lasting friendships as they exchanged numbers and took many pictures together throughout the night.
On the second day of the event, pairs were formed with players of different countries. The reception from the previous night helped create a comfortable mood and it was fulfilling to see players from different countries communicating and playing together so effectively.
This was second event of its kind, but for this years event we asked players to travel unaccompanied by their parents. The trip marked the first time many of the Japanese players had travelled overseas; additionally it was most of the kids longest period of time they’d travelled away from their parents. Ultimately, everyone was able to face these great challenges and worked together to overcome them, in which they hopefully gained a great sense of confidence.
In the future, it would be great to see everyone grow athletically and compete at the 2028 Los Angeles Paralympics but that wasn’t our main goal for this event. We wanted everyone invited to have new experiences that will broaden their horizons and to ultimately become leaders in their communities.