It was in 2020 that Laurent Boniface, president of the tennis club, created what was given to him at heart: the wheelchair tennis disabled section. Laurent is very active. Following serious health problems, he finds himself in a wheelchair. Athlete and passionate about tennis, this former professional cook is reconverting professionally and sportingly. It was then that he came up with the idea of creating the first tennis club for people with disabilities playing in wheelchairs. “I met Patricia Testa, mayor of the village, to present my project to her. She immediately accepted the idea. With the departmental committee, we thought about the adjustments and restructuring to be carried out. The municipality accepted , then a fiancé the project became reality.”
“Armchair tennis is starting to develop”
Last week, the Mercus club organized the first wheelchair tennis tournament in Ariège. Out of competition, two high-level practitioners were invited to show their talents.
Rodolphe Lopez, from Montpellier, 12th national and 1st Division team champion of France, found himself paralyzed in 2021 after an accident at work. “I was already playing tennis, it was my sport. I came to help and train coaches. I even repaired chairs this weekend. The tennis chair is starting to develop, there are TV broadcasts For the first time, the Roland-Garros final was visible on the screens.”
The practice of his sport is paying, model reminds the champion: “a city wheelchair is 6,000 to 8,000 euros, reimbursed 588 euros; for the sports wheelchair, with the same reimbursement, it is between 8,000 and 10,000 euros. Sport is essential, it’s a physical and moral plus. But who hears that?”
Christophe Saint-Paul, from Tarbes he is 50th national (ex-36th), has been in an armchair for 14 years because of a car accident. A former football and handball player, he explains: “I met a friend who wanted to create a wheelchair tennis section. It was complicated, but I stuck with it and I play. But the greater the handicap, the greater the progress. slow. You have to persevere.”
The six players participated in the tournament in good spirits. The final touch is happy, because the tournament succeeded Martin, a young man from Foix who for the first time tried a tennis chair. “It was great,” he reacted. He will take his card at the club at the start of the school year.