“Your life changes a lot when you become disabled in such a way,” says Carrie Cleary. But despite being wheelchair bound, Carrie is still causing a racquet thanks to Wheel Serve NC. Wheel Serve is a nonprofit wheelchair tennis organization with six programs in the state. Carrie and Pinehurst Parks and Recs are seeking to grow the organization in the Sandhills.
They are looking for adults that can’t play able bodied tennis due to permanent physical disability from spinal cord injury, amputation, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, cancers, leg, hip or knee injury and other complications, whether you need a wheelchair full time or part-time. You don’t need any prior tennis experience, coaches will teach you everything you need to know. They’ll even provide a sport wheelchair and racquet. “We just need more athletes,” says Carrie, “I know they’re out there, especially with our proximity to Fort Bragg.”
“I think maybe some people shy away from it and think they can’t do it but it’s open to anyone and is a free service to the community thanks to fundraising,” says Nicole Benbow, recreation program coordinator. There are a range of ages that participate, the youngest two are 19.
How’s it work? Wheel Serve meets the first & third Tuesday of each month at Rassie Wicker Park tennis courts in Pinehurst. You’ll play some matches, practice, switch partners and get served some fun. The main difference between regular tennis and wheelchair tennis is that there is a two bounce rule. There are also volunteers present to assist with things like switching chairs or just being an extra person to hit with.. Contact Nicole Benbow at email@example.com to sign up.
“I love it. Coming back to tennis is one thing but doing it in a wheelchair is a whole other thing. It’s still competitive,” says Johnny Raglan. “You always leave laughing,” says Carrie.