Grand Rapids, Mich. — The world’s top wheelchair tennis players, including three Team USA Paralympians, will compete in the 2016 Midwest Wheelchair Tennis Championships July 8-10 at MVP Athletic Club – Crahen.
The tournament, hosted by Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital’s Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports Program, is expected to draw more than 70 participants. Grand Rapids is one of several stops on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, an International Tennis Federation event.
“This event is one of the biggest wheelchair tennis tournaments in the Midwest,” said tournament director Erin Fouty, who also coaches the Mary Free Bed Wheelchair Tennis Team. “It continues to draw top-level players from the United States and all over the world.”
Match play will take place 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Most finals will be played Sunday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. The venue is located at 115 Crahen Ave. in Grand Rapids.
The tournament will feature Paralympians Bryan Barten, a Hart, Mich., native who will head the Quad open division; and Emmy Kaiser of Fort Mitchell, Ky., and Kaitlyn Verfuerth of Flagstaff, Ariz., who will compete in the women’s field. The Team USA members will compete in the Paralympic Games Sept. 7-18 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Also competing in the Grand Rapids tournament will be world champions Chris Herman of Gulfport, Fla., and Casey Ratzlaff of Wichita, Kan. Herman and Ratzlaff won the Junior division in the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in May in Tokyo. They will play in the men’s singles division and will team up for the doubles competition.
The women’s field also features Shelby Baron of Honolulu, Hawaii, who, along with Barten, Kaiser and Verfuerth, also represented the U.S. at the World Cup.
The tournament also includes players from Canada, France, Great Britain, Japan, Nigeria and Portugal. Seventeen members of the Mary Free Bed Wheelchair Tennis Team will compete in all levels, from Novice to the Open division.
More than $13,500 in prize money will be awarded to the winners of each division. The tournament is sponsored by Mary Free Bed Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports, the United States Tennis Association and many other generous sponsors.
Admission for spectators is free. Meal tickets are $8 per meal or $50 for the weekend (Friday and Saturday lunch and dinner, Sunday lunch).
Mary Free Bed is a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, rehabilitation hospital. For 125 years, Mary Free Bed has restored hope and freedom through rehabilitation for children and adults who have experienced brain injuries, strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple traumas, amputations, cancer and other diagnoses. The combination of comprehensive services and an exclusive focus on rehabilitation enables specialty physicians and staff to help patients achieve outstanding clinical results. For additional information, visit maryfreebed.com.