My guide dog knows more tennis venues than Judy Murray

Rosie Pybus is working with the Lawn Tennis Association and Tennis Foundation to give more disabled people the opportunity to try and enjoy tennis.

A while ago, I was playing Two Truths One Lie as an icebreaker. “I have a guide dog, I play tennis and I am blind,” I said, pausing as confusion swept the room. After a few moments, I piped up again that I wasn’t blind, but I did have a guide dog and I did play tennis. So if I’m not blind, I must be sighted… right?

Wrong. Only three per cent of people who are registered blind have no sight at all but, even if I was in that minority group, there would still be pathways and opportunities for me to play and enjoy tennis.

Starting out with tennis

Right up until I reached the age of 19 in 2010, I had no interest in sport and was never captivated or engaged by school sport, so when my friend was adamant that I should play tennis with her, I really wasn’t buying it!

Rosie hitting ballWhen I started out on my journey into sport, I had no idea that I would end up writing this blog and reflecting on the fantastic opportunities that I would not have faced had I not given in and tried tennis twice!

Five years down the line, I have become practically inseparable from my tennis racket, and my guide dog knows the route to more tennis venues in the UK than Judy Murray!

Rosie with the full teamI am very privileged to be involved in tennis, and to have the opportunity to work alongside so many fantastic people on a local, regional, national and international spectrum! The only thing more exhilarating than stepping off the train, bus or metro in Newcastle, York, Leeds, Sheffield or London and telling Kane to “find the tennis club!” is that buzz of excitement when the support I give others allows them to triumph and succeed.

As a player, I love tennis and think that the magic of the sport is its inclusiveness! It is perhaps the only sport where somebody who is visually impaired can play doubles on a team with somebody who is a wheelchair user playing against somebody who is deaf/hearing impaired and somebody who has a learning disability with very few adaptations to the rules and equipment.

Becoming a tennis coach

Rosie with the tennis group on court

Loving tennis so much, I couldn’t stop at playing the game and in 2011 I signed up to my level 1 coaching assistant course at Sunderland Tennis Centre, followed in 2014 by my level 2 course at Leeds Beckett University and a whole host of CPD courses in between. Tennis has given me the confidence to develop myself and now, as a coach, I feel so privileged to play a part in many more people’s tennis journeys, hopefully helping to inspire them to pursue their newfound passion for the inclusive game!

As well as the life-changing confidence that I have developed on court and off, tennis has given me a job, a hobby, a career, lifelong friendships, and the ability to move out into my own flat and build my own life.

Rosie with a tennis trophyI would encourage everyone to try tennis twice, let it intrigue you the first time and captivate you the second and you will truly see the magic that the game has to offer! If this article inspires you to do one thing, please follow me on Twitter and join in the discussion with @DsbltyTennisNE, @BritishTennis and @TennisFndation. Have your say and find out where you can try and love tennis for free local to you #AnyoneForTennis?

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Rosie is School Games Project Officer at Tees Valley Sport and Self Employed Coach and Consultant trading as Successful Approach. For further information and to get involved, email SuccessfulApproach@outlook.com or enquiries@tennisfoundation.org.uk