LOTS OF FUN: Yamba amputee Will Elrick lobs the ball for a serve after becoming the first one-legged person to be coached at Grafton City Tennis Club.
LOTS OF FUN: Yamba amputee Will Elrick lobs the ball for a serve after becoming the first one-legged person to be coached at Grafton City Tennis Club. Ayesha Beckman

Mountain climbing amputee lobs into new challenge

WHEELCHAIR TENNIS: After climbing some of the world's highest mountains with crutches, taking to the tennis court in a wheelchair doesn't seem like a big deal.

But for Will Elrick, who had only been on a tennis court a few times before he became an amputee, learning to play wheelchair tennis is bringing a lot of joy to his life.

"It was funny, they approached me in the street.

"I was just finishing a coffee at Heart and Soul and Phil's wife Ayesha approached me.

"It was a few weeks before I went and had a go, and I was like, oh wow, this is really cool," he said.

"I'm really, really surprised to be honest, since the accident I've avoided wheelchairs."

Elrick lost his leg from the hip after his vehicle clipped a four-wheel-drive head-on in 1997, and mostly uses crutches to get around.

"I've only had three sessions and Phil thinks I'm doing okay," Elrick said about his progress.

"It's something to think about, going further. At the moment I'm enjoying myself and learning the skill, just learning to push the chair with a tennis racket in your hand."

In the future, Elrick thinks playing in competitions could be fun.

"It would be good to go against a couple of two- leggers and maybe some- one in a wheelchair and

just see where it goes," he said.

Phil Beckman from the Grafton City Tennis Club needed someone to coach after the club received a sports wheelchair.

"Before he lost his leg, he'd played two times," Beckman said.

"His first lesson was really really good. He didn't know what to expect and I didn't know what to expect."

Beckman said they had been going through the basics and Elrick was picking up the game quickly.

"He's seemed to adapt to it really quickly, he didn't have any bad habits," he said.

"He's really strong, which is a plus. He goes mountain climbing with his crutches.

"It's not easy for someone who hadn't played before, you don't find that every day."

After 30 years coaching tennis, Beckman had never coached a wheelchair player, and put a lot of work into making sure he'd do it properly.

"It's certainly different. I've watched a little bit of wheelchair tennis myself, David Hall has a few videos out on Youtube and I watched them," he said.

"I love the challenge of teaching someone in a chair."

Grafton City Tennis Club is offering training to anyone wanting to try out wheelchair tennis.

Elrick said even though the sport looks difficult, people should give it a go.

"Just jump in a chair and have a go," he said.

"There is a lot of skill to it, but it's a lot of fun."

"I have a big smile arriving and a big smile leaving."



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