OPAF's First Volley, adaptive tennis clinics for ambulatory players was founded in August 2005. First Volley was designed for amputees, orthosis wearers and those with physical challenges who wish to enjoy the game of tennis, but choose not to sit in a wheelchair to do so. Our population takes great pride in the fact that they are ambulatory and do not wish to be labeled as handicapped. First Volley gives them tennis skills on their level, instructed by tennis professionals with years of experience in coaching amputees and those with physical challenges. First Volley allows our ambulatory players the same consideration that wheelchair players have in that they are allowed a second bounce on their side of the net, should they need it. Our goal on the tennis court is to take the "dis" out of "disability" and leave our participants the "ability" to participate in the game. The game of tennis gives them a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride and provides an area where they can fit in and return to an activity that may have thought lost to them. An equally important aspect of First Volley is the socialization with other clinic participants. This gives them significant encouragement by realizing they are not alone in the face of physical challenges and are surrounded by others who are also attempting new activities and enjoying life. They not only gain new friends, but are able to eliminate feelings of isolation that can accompany a debilitating accident or injury.
The First Volley clinics which have been held to date are 2-3 hours in length and have affected hundreds lives so far, including participants, professional orthotic and prosthetic practitioners, tennis professionals, rehab personnel and volunteers. We have hosted clinics in across the country and into Canada and met with enthusiasm at every location. Amputees and those with physical challenges have had some aspect of their lives literally taken away from them. Our goal is to be able to restore at least a portion of that and provide an activity and an outlet for them where they can not only find enjoyment in their physical well being, but also contact with other participants creates a very positive source for self esteem. First Volley gives them fun, fitness and social contacts that they may not otherwise find and allows them to experience it on their own two feet!
Clinics are conducted very similar to traditional able-bodied tennis clinics in that participants are instructed in a series of drills on different strokes and situations. Clinics are conducted by our First Volley Director of Tennis, Darren Kindred, USPTA professional, or another of our certified First Volley instructors, who has years of experience in working with amputees and those with challenges. Darren spent years working under the tutelage of Marty Devlin, noted tennis advocate, and developed this program, specifically with amputees in mind. Darren has certified two additional First Volley instructors to carry on the program when he not available, which also allows us to reduce our travel expenses. A typical clinic is attended by 8-15 amputees as well as wheelchair athletes, and is also well attended by professionals within both the orthotic and prosthetic community as well as physical, occupational and recreational therapists. Our goal is to give them an activity that they can continue to pursue on their own, or with others that will keep them moving and allow them to improve health to help postpone or possibly prevent surgeries that could include another amputation or catastrophic event.
First Volley's founding is partially thanks to one of Darren Kindred's students, Dana Bezar. Dana is a quadrilateral amputee who plays tennis standing up. She also plays quite well! Dana had a desire to learn the game of tennis but did not want to sit in the wheelchair. She undertook learning the game of tennis with the help of both Darren and Marty Devlin. Thanks to Marty and Darren, Dana can not only play, but places the ball anywhere she wants on the court, with both top spin and back spin and also serves using traditional techniques. To see her play is truly an inspiration and a large reason for where we are today and where we would like to take the program in the future.
First Volley was recently named the United States Tennis Association National Community Service Award winner for 2007 for Adaptive Tennis and the USTA Middle States Organization of the Year. We are partially funded by a grant from the United States Tennis Association Tennis & Education Foundation. First Volley clinics are a wonderful marketing tool for professional offices to give back to their patients and their community. For more information on how to host a First Volley clinic locally, contact the OPAF office at 980-819-9404 or .
Participants are given an evaluation form to complete at the end of each clinic so that we may receive feedback, both positively and constructively, to improve clinics in the future. Our numbers, though small currently, have no where to go but up, which will demonstrate success and belief in the program. Our ultimate goal is that the clinics will become self-sustaining and will be sponsored by Orthotic & Prosthetic professional facilities as well as other like minded groups and organizations. Unfortunately with the dramatic increase in diabetes in the United States, the rate of amputation will only be increasing at an alarming rate and those individuals are in need of quality tennis instruction aimed directly at their population.
Upcoming First Volley Clinics
More events coming soon!Sponsor a First Volley Clinic in your area
Press Releases and Media Coverage
- Military Child of the Year awards honor impressive teens
(Mary is a First Volley participant. Her dad, Tom Cooper, is one of OPAF's certified First Volley instructors.)
- First Volley Amputee & Adaptive Tennis Tournament in Cherry Hill, NJ
- First Volley Tennis Tournament
- First Volley Shriners Philadelphia 2012
- First Volley for Shriners Northern California/Sacramento
- First Volley receives grant funding for Camp No Limits Event
- First Volley Clinics with Adventure Amputee Camp