Unified Tennis Makes a Racket


Elissa Dallimore and Grace Sagel

On Wednesday, October 4, 2017, Oakdale’s Unified Tennis team played against Urbana and TJ High School in their second game of the season, with the court players winning all three of their games and the skill players succeeding in their sets. The team has high hopes for the upcoming season.


Unified Tennis is a sports team that allows students with and without disabilities to compete together during the fall. Practices begin in September after potential teammates attend an informational meeting to sign up to be a volunteer or to play in matches. Participants can either choose to be a court level player, where they are expected to demonstrate various skills during their doubles match, or a skill level player that earns points for hitting the ball over the net in certain places.


“Practices take place every Wednesday and Friday. We start warming up by hitting the ball against the wall, then you pair up and hit the ball back and forth to each other until we split into teams and play sets,” explains Sophomore Greysen Simmons, who has been enjoying her first year on the team and has previous tennis experience.


On the team, there are several groups that have specialized jobs. One group might be on clean-up duty and pick up all of the tennis balls, or another group will partner up with those on the team that need more practice. Volunteers from Oakdale’s Tennis Team teach various techniques, such as how to manage, count, or serve the ball.


The point system differs from most tennis matches. For court players, the doubles team that first earns four points in four games wins the set. In Unified Tennis there are no deuces, rather when there is a four-four tie, the next point earned wins the game.


Coaches Greta Harrison and Terry Connolly focus on building a strong group dynamic, which allows everyone to get involved and enjoy the practices.


“It’s rewarding getting to see these kids on the court and seeing their smiles when they hit it over the net, and the comradery when someone scores a point,” reflects Coach Harrison.


“Everyone on the team is really friendly, and we learn a lot from the volunteers that come to practices to help us. The coaches encourage us, but never put too much pressure on us,” comments Simmons.


Last season, the team got silver at districts, and this year they plan to win gold and go to States. Make sure to come out and support Oakdale’s Unified Tennis team at their next match against Brunswick on October 17th at home at 3:30!