MISSION, Texas – “I like the techniques we use and the form of swing,” said Dante Alejandro, tennis player.
Dante Alejandro is one of the 19 players participating in this year’s International Blind Tennis Tournament at Mission’s Banworth Gym, which brought together players from Mexico, the Valley, and Laredo, with varying degrees of visual impairment.
Dante is B1, which means he has partial vision constricted to a diameter of less than 10 degrees.
He’s 15 and started playing when he was just 7. For him, playing tennis is about more than just getting to enjoy a game.
“I make friends. Talk to people. Get to know them more,” said Dante.
A special foam ball containing a bell is used in the game so players can follow its sound and wires mark the court, so they stay within bounds.
Boys & Girls Club of Mission organized the tournament to make the popular sport accessible to the blind community of all ages.
“It gives them an opportunity to get out and do something, try something different. It challenges them. They’re visually impaired at different levels and it’s a challenge to go out and try to compete,” Said JJ Guerrero, Mission Boys and Girls Club Director.
Mission is the only RGV city offering the sport. Guerrero says the Boys & Girls Club has three players and they meet twice a week to practice.
“It started in Japan. It’s moved all around the world, now it’s here in the Valley in Mission,” said Guerrero.
At the tournament, Dante played two games and won both. He’ll also have plans to compete in an upcoming tournament in Italy this summer where he will represent the U.S.
“I’m going to be in Italy soon. I’m very excited about that. I’m training hard,” Said Dante.