British Deaf Tennis
A deaf tennis player from Harrow, Middlesex, is to see the realisation of a long-held ambition as he embarks upon a project to produce a book, DVD, website and educational resources reflecting the rich history of British deaf tennis thanks to the support of a grant from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, and support from The Tennis Foundation and the British Deaf Tennis Association.
Bryan Whalley, 52, has been involved in deaf tennis for over 30 years and is a former two-time National Deaf Tennis Championships Men’s Single champion. During his time as both a player and administrator he has met many deaf tennis players of different generations and backgrounds around Great Britain and abroad, which has inspired his research.
No historical records have been published since British deaf tennis was founded early in the 20th Century. The aim of Mr Whalley’s research is to provide the current generation of deaf sportsmen and women with an understanding of their sporting and cultural heritage and values, while also giving the general public greater opportunity to share an understanding of what it is like to live in society as a deaf person striving to overcome barriers and expressing their aspirations through playing tennis.
A team of mainly deaf volunteers will work with Mr Whalley to compile a unique collection of historical documents, photographs and other memorabilia, all gathered to preserve the heritage of British deaf tennis, with the collection to be made accessible in a range of formats.
A website is to be launched in the New Year, while educational resources, a book and DVD will all follow. Also in 2008 exhibitions will be held around the country to present the research to a wider audience. One such exhibition will be at the Westway Indoor Tennis Centre in London, a fitting location as it is between Mr Whalley’s home in Harrow and the school for the deaf in north west London where he is a teacher
“Today, little is known about the history of deaf tennis and the educational, cultural, community and sign language influences that have all played a big role in deaf people playing tennis since early this century, said Mr Whalley.
“These influences have all evolved through to the present day and have had an immeasurable effect on the flourishing sport of today.”
It is hoped that the book and DVD will be ready in the time for the 21st Deaflympic Games, the Olympics of deaf sport, in Taiwan, in September 2009. A copy of the book will be placed in the Kenneth Ritchie Wimbledon Library, which is part of The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, and contains one of the most outstanding collections of British and foreign lawn tennis books and audio-visual items. .
The British Deaf Tennis Association and The Tennis Foundation are working in partnership with Mr Whalley and the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the research, as well as encouraging deaf and hearing people with an interest in tennis to become aware of the exciting prospects in deaf tennis past, present and future.
“The Tennis Foundation has a long and happy association with the British Deaf Tennis Association and the success of Britain’s deaf tennis players. The message of The Tennis Foundation is ‘one game all’ and we applaud Bryan’s drive and passion in carrying out this unique research in to the history of this ever-growing part of the sport,” said Lynn Parker, Head of National Disability Tennis at The Tennis Foundation.