Special Olympics Tennis

Roger Federer (Switzerland) and John Isner (USA) warm up at Wimbledon Centre Court prior to their quarterfinal match at the London 2012 Men's Singles Olympic tournament, by Madchester.
Creative Commons licence text.

Warming up at Wimbledon Centre Court, London 2012, by Madchester.

The rules for Special Olympic Tennis are based upon the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Rules for tennis. To accommodate the special needs of Special Olympic athletes, these rules are modified or supplemented as detailed below.

Special Olympics athletes compete in the following events:

Individual Skills Competition

Singles

Doubles

Mixed Doubles

Unified Sports® Doubles

Unified Sports Mixed Doubles

Because of the large range of abilities, athletes are placed into divisions based upon a formal assessment of their capabilities.

All play is by the No-Ad scoring system in which the first to win four points wins the game. In singles and doubles matches on the seventh point the receiving side chooses which court (advantage or deuce) in which to receive the serve. With mixed doubles the player of the same gender as the server receives the deciding point. With unified doubles the service on the seventh point is to be delivered athlete to athlete or partner to partner.

The score may be announced either in the conventional terms (love, 15, 30, 40, game) or simple numbers (zero, one, two, three, game).

A match consists of either:

One six game No-Ad set (see above) with a margin of two games with a 7 point tie-break played at six all.

or:

Two out of three short sets. In a short set the first side to win four games wins that set, provided they have a lead of at least two games. If it is four games all, a 7 point tie-break game is played. If a match reaches one set all, a 7 point tie-break decider is played instead of a deciding final set.

A single Special Olympics coach may sit in a chair located at the net post next to the umpire’s chair and may coach a player when the players change ends at the end of an odd game, but not after the first game of each set and not during a tie-break game.

Unified Sports Doubles

Teams consist of an athlete and a partner. Each team determines their own order of service and selection of courts (ad or deuce).

Individual Skills Competition

Competition Managers must specify whether to use a traditional tennis ball, a low compression ball, or a foam ball. The preferred ball is the SpeedBall.

Forehand Volley

The player stands about one meter from the net with the feeder on the other side positioned halfway between the service line and the net. Each player is given five tries to hit a ball safely over the net. The feeder throws the ball underhand to the athlete’s forehand side. The player scores 10 points for hitting into the backcourt on or between the baseline, service line and singles sidelines, and five points for hitting into either service box.

Backhand Volley

This is the same as the forehand volley except that the feeder sends the balls to athlete’s backhand side. Each athlete has five attempts.

Forehand Ground-stroke

The player stands on or behind the baseline. The feeder stands halfway between the net and service line on the same side of the net and throws the ball underhand to bounce it once before reaching the player's forehand side. Each player gets five attempts. The player scores 10 points for hitting into the backcourt on or between the baseline, service line and singles sidelines, and five points for hitting into either service box.

Backhand Ground-stroke

This is the same as the forehand groundstroke except that the feeder sends the ball to the athlete’s backhand side. Each athlete is allowed five tries.

Serve — Deuce Court

Each player has five tries to hit a legal serve from the right court into the deuce service box. A serve landing in the required service box scores 10 points, but zero is scored if the player commits a foot fault or fails to get the ball in the service box.

Serve — Advantage Court

This is the same as the serve to the deuce court but from the left court to the advantage service box. Each athlete has five attempts.

Alternating Ground-strokes with Movement

The player stands at the centre service mark on or behind the baseline. The feeder stands halfway between the service line and net on the same side and alternates throws to the player's forehand and backhand sides. Each throw must land at a point which is both halfway between the service line and baseline and halfway between the centre service mark and singles sideline. The next ball may not be thrown until the player has returned to the centre mark. Each player has ten attempts, scoring 10 points for hitting into the backcourt on or between the baseline, service line and singles sidelines, and five points for hitting into either service box.

Final Score

A player’s final score is the sum of all scores achieved in each of the seven events.


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