Saturday 5th August 2017 saw Chesham Bois Lawn Tennis and Squash Club provide the venue and coaching for a Deaf tennis community event hosted by Aston Hearing (AHS). The event was mainly to raise awareness of Hearing and deafness and the importance of staying physically and socially active even if you have a hearing loss. Participants were invited to have their ears checked then blocked to simulate deafness and see how it affected their tennis skills. Most players took advantage of this opportunity and quite a few found they had to remove the ear plugs soon after restarting play as it was more difficult to concentrate when their hearing was impaired.
The event welcomed people of all ages, tennis abilities and hearing levels and hoped to show how Deaf players can enjoy playing alongside Hearing players. Afternoon tea was served all afternoon by staff of Aston Hearing and the event was supported by the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. A raffle was held to raise funds for this worthwhile charity and combined with Hearing Dogs merchandise sales this raised a great total of £350.
The event was a great success and a total of 32 players participated in the tennis with additional 21 nonplaying guests excluding staff from AHS, coaching team and Hearing dogs. Comments during and after the event were all good and newcomers to the club were keen to praise how welcoming and friendly they found the club and its members. Parents of the deaf children attending were impressed with the coaching assistants and commented on how relaxed they made everyone feel. The children enjoyed the tennis drills and then the opportunity to hit with other juniors as well as the assistants without judgement on skill level.
Matt Reid was the coach in charge of the tennis and should be commended on his organisation of his team and the tennis on the day. He also demonstrated his patience and skill as a coach when helping a Deaf/blind player to the point where he could hit 6-7 consecutive balls from not hitting a single one at the start. The sheer joy on his face and that of his totally deaf carer made the afternoon extra special.
This was very much a team event and with the help and support of so many people, a very enjoyable event to run and attend. Hopefully it achieved the goals of raising awareness of Hearing and deafness and showed how an impairment such as Hearing Loss can be accommodated by local tennis clubs. As a result of the success of the event Aston Hearing are now encouraged to look at other ways to promote inclusion in sport for the Deaf and those with Hearing impairment.