Two players in wheelchairs battle each other on the tennis court - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Two players in wheelchairs battle each other on the tennis court


Tennis is a game of agility and speed.  Lakeshore Senior Caleb Vanderweide possess both of those qualities plus something else too, he plays the game in a wheelchair.  "I can't run very fast and I"am not very maneuverable so it pretty much just allows me to maneuver around the courts," said Vanderweide.

He's been learning how to maneuver in a different way his whole life.  "I was actually born with a disability called spinal bifida."

It's a similar story for Mattawan Sophomore Caleb Janssen.  "I was born with spinal bifida just like him," said Janssen.

Wednesday they battled each other on the tennis court.  "It was definitely really exciting getting a chance to play on an even playing field," said Vanderweide.

It's the first time in either of their High School careers they've been up against an opponent in a wheel chair.  "It's a lot easier honestly to play against someone in a wheel chair than someone standing up," said Janssen.

They're used to playing guys who can use their legs.  Janssen said, "They don't usually make fun of me but sometimes they look at me like oh that kids in a wheelchair I don't know what to do."

Other than a slight rule change for someone in a wheelchair, they play the same game.  Vanderweide said, "the only difference is they have one bounce and I have two. "

But it's been a long time coming for Michigan High School sports to see two players on the court both using the double bounce rule.  Lakeshore JV Tennis Coach Tim Nisonger said, "I just talked to the St. Joe JV coach last week and he said in the 20 years he had been around the first time he saw a wheelchair player was Mattawan and the next match was us so it was two in a row."

Nisonger said he's confident this won't be the last time.  "I think it'll happen more often now."

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