The Japanese really do seem to invent a lot of sports, especially for the disabled. Not long ago, we told you about Doglegs, a wrestling sport for the handicapped. Now, we’re going to introduce you to Blind Tennis, which is of course, tennis played by the blind.
The creation of the sport is largely credited to Miyoshi Takei, who in spite of his blindness, started to play tennis as a kid with the encouragement of his high school teacher. His only aim at the time was to hit a ball that was flying through the air as hard as he could, even though he couldn’t see it. After several trials, he finally invented a special kind of tennis ball that is spongy and light in weight. The ball rattles, so that blind players can track its movement with their ears. Miyoshi’s endeavors met with success and the first national blind tennis championships were held in Japan in the year 1990. Today, hundreds of Japanese players take part every year and a few from other countries too, such as China, Korea, Taiwan, Britain and the United States.
Interestingly, blind tennis is played on a badminton court with string taped to the lines so players can feel the boundaries. Junior-sized rackets are used to hit the ball. Players who are deemed legally blind wear eye masks to level the field. They are expected to hit the ball after it bounces two to three times, depending on the level of their visual impairment. Sadly, Miyoshi is no longer alive to see the progress made by the sport he invented. He passed away a year ago, at the age of 42, when he was returning home with his blind wife and fell in front of an oncoming train in Tokyo. He is considered a role model for aspiring blind tennis players around the world.