While hundreds of athletes from around the state are gearing up to compete this weekend in bocce, softball and tennis at the State Outdoor Sports Tournament (OST), another group of athletes and Unified partners is eager to participate in the inaugural Tennis Skills Clinic and Unified Sports Experience offered at OST this year.
This new addition to OST will provide Athletes and Unified partners with the opportunity to participate in a skills training session, a friendly Unified doubles competition, or both during this two-part clinic. Longtime Lakeland Area Special Olympics tennis coach Joyce Tessiatore is using her extensive experience in both the tennis community and the Special Olympics community to help bring this exciting new event to fruition.
“As a member of the USTA (United States Tennis Association)/Midwest Adaptive Committee, I am hoping this event will be an opportunity for the participants to experience the fun of tennis and showcase the abilities of Special Olympics tennis athletes,” Tessiatore said. “And as an active volunteer for many Special Olympics North America tennis competitions, I would also like to share some insight at the state level on how those competitions are run.”
The clinic will open with a skills training session where athletes and Unified partners will engage with mentors to learn and apply new tennis techniques. Participants will begin the session by watching demonstrations and then get the opportunity to practice these new techniques on the court during tennis skill stations. Following the training session, athletes and Unified partners will be paired together to participate in exhibition games of Unified doubles tennis.
“This will probably be the first time most of the participants have played in a Unified doubles event,” Tessiatore said. “My goal is for everyone to have fun and make new friends through tennis. And I think it would be great if the participants take the idea home with them and share the gift of Unified fun on their home courts and in their communities.”