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Arafura Games wheelchair tennis tournament will not be staged on sloping main court at Darwin International Tennis Centre

Arafura Games wheelchair tennis tournament will not be staged on sloping main court at Darwin International Tennis Centre
April 12, 2019

Wheelchair tennis players competing in Darwin's upcoming Arafura Games will not be able to use the new $17 million main court at the Darwin International Tennis Centre after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) found the surface was sloping.

Finished last October, the Centre’s main court has a 49-centimetre slope across it from one side to the other. The angle was discovered in November but has yet to be rectified.

Tennis NT Chief Executive Sam Gibson said this 2% gradient was found to be twice the acceptable level permitted by the ITF for wheelchair competitions.

As a result, wheelchair tennis players from around the world will have to play on 14 outside courts, while the non-disabled competition, which is not internationally sanctioned, will continue on the covered main arena.

Gibson explained “unfortunately, the ITF wheelchair component of the Arafura Games won't be able to use the show court because the court doesn't comply with the ITF recommendations.

"So that means that the wheelchair component will be played on the other courts."

While pronouncing the court a "fantastic new facility", Northern Territory Arafura Games Minister Natasha Fyles said the fact it could not be used by wheelchair tennis players was "concerning".

Opened last year, the Northern Territory Government contributed more than $16 million for the facility.

Gibson said project managers were working on the problem but that work to rectify it will not begin until October at the earliest.

He did not say how much it was expected to cost, but added “we've made it clear that we don't expect the Territory Government or taxpayers to contribute any more funding to this facility and that will just be a matter for the project team to figure that out.”

The Arafura Games will run in Darwin from 26th April to 4th May, with more than 1,500 athletes and team officials from more than 30 nations expected.

The para events will run in conjunction with the main schedule.

In some disciplines, such as table tennis, para athletes will use the Arafura Games for qualification ahead of the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

The wheelchair tennis competition will give junior players the chance to earn rankings points in an ITF-sanctioned event.

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30th March 2019 - ITF seeks new Hopman Cup host

24th January 2019 - Tennis Australia and Asian Tennis Federation establish working group to develop game in Asia-Pacific

22nd January 2019 - Female tennis gains $12 million Federal Government investment

21st January 2019 - Tennis Australia and Universal Tennis reveal major ratings partnership

8th December 2018 - Albury to host International Tennis Tournament in 2019

21st July 2018 - Darwin International Tennis Centre gets official opening

24th April 2018 - Expert Advisory Board appointed to develop Arafura Games

4th April 2018 - Northern Territory Government appoints Arafura Games Director

15th November 2017 - Arafura Games to return to Darwin in 2019


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