The 3rdndWheelchair Tennis Global Challenge was held at California State University Long Beach in Long Beach, California on January 25thh and 26th 2020. The event was hosted by Los Angeles based non-profit, B-Adaptive Foundation and brought together 12 junior wheelchair tennis athletes from Japan, Canada and the United States for a competitive yet friendly international competition.
The Japanese athletes arrived on January 21stnd and stayed in Los Angeles for only a week, but maximized their short stay with various activities, matches and practices.
First of all, they visited the LA Memorial Coliseum, where the Summer Olympic Games were held in 1934 &1984. And utilizing the wheelchair accessible LA Metro system, they visited globally known places, such as Hollywood and Santa Monica and had an enjoyable time. Through this opportunity, they were able to experience the difference in the wheelchair accessibility in LA.
On the 23rd, the Japanese athletes visited the organizing committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2028 (LA2028). Luckily, they had an opportunity to meet Janet Evans, a four-time swimming gold medalist at the Barcelona and Seoul Olympics and a current Chief Athlete Officer for the committee. She passionately shared her plans for the improvement of the wheelchair accessibility in the city of LA as well as her honorary contribution to the committee. It was such a precious moment for them to listen to her stories, and they were already looking ahead to the next Paralympics in Tokyo, Paris, and LA with their heads held up high.
The next day players from Canada and the United States arrived and the tournament began on the 25thth with the three represented countries facing off in a competitive, yet friendly environment. Each player had two singles and two doubles against other players and competed for the trophy. Team Japan and Team USA tied for the most wins, but Team USA earned more games than Team Japan and won the trophy.
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 through 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 the second event of its kind, but for this year’s 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.