(l-r) Thomas Venos, Gabe Puthoff and Nathan Hunter congratulate each other after competing in the collegiate wheelchair exhibition on May 20, 2023 in Orlando, Fla.
The NCAA and USOPC established another milestone moment in their combined effort to direct the spotlight toward advancing Para and adaptive sports at the collegiate level. A pair of collegiate wheelchair tennis squads squared off against each other in an exhibition match during the 2023 NCAA Division I, II and III Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships at the U.S. Tennis Association’s landmark facility in Orlando, Florida.
In another installment of a timeless cross-state, multi-sport rivalry, wheelchair tennis teams from the University of Alabama and Auburn University delivered a phenomenal battle for all tennis fans in attendance. Unfortunately for Tigers fans, the Crimson Tide took home bragging rights with a 2-0 victory out of three matches played.
For those unfamiliar with the general scoring system of collegiate tennis, collegiate teams first play three doubles matches simultaneously. The team that secures two doubles victories earns the “doubles point,” to claim an overall series lead of 1-0 and an advantage going into the six singles matches. The singles matches are also played simultaneously, and the first collegiate team to win four singles matches (three if the school earned the doubles point), secures the overall victory. Those still playing after four matches have been decided can choose to play out the match (for additional team practice and points) or “abandon” them, since winning the overall competition is statistically impossible.
The rules differ only slightly for wheelchair tennis. The number of sets in a doubles match and the number of team points are reduced due to a limited number of participating athletes.