MISSSION, Texas – Over the weekend the Boys & Girls Club of Mission hosting a tennis tournament for the blind, bringing together players of all ages from parts of Texas and Mexico.
Dante Alejandro is one of the 19 players participating in this year’s International Blind Tennis Tournament at Mission’s Banworth Gym. The 15-year-old 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 Alejandro.
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. The Boys & Girls Club of Mission organized the tournament to make the popular sport accessible to the blind community of all ages.
JJ Guerrero, Boys & Girls Club of Mission, “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.”
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.”
At the tournament, Dante played two games and won both. He’ll also has 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.”
Mission is the only Valley city that coaches blind tennis and Guerrero says he hopes the sport expands across the Valley.