A deep empathy for the physically disabled has prompted a local high schooler to establish a wheelchair tennis program in Abbotsford.
Anthony Iliev, a 16-year-old tennis player who recently finished his Grade 11 year at Mennonite Educational Institute, is the driving force behind the Aces on Wheels program, which runs on Monday afternoons from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the MEI tennis courts.
“You recognize these people from the time you’re a little kid – ‘Mommy, why is that man in a wheelchair?'” Iliev said. “It’s not fair to see them like that.
“I feel that I need to help these people, because I’m so blessed to have these legs of mine and be free of all physical barriers.”
Iliev, who helped the MEI tennis team to a bronze medal at AA high school provincials this past season, came up with the idea for a wheelchair tennis program in the spring. He got his wheelchair tennis coaching certification, drew up plans for the course, and pitched it to the BC Wheelchair Sports Association (BCWSA).
The provincial body came on board, and loaned Iliev a pair of sport wheelchairs to help him get started.
Keeping the participation costs low is a priority to Iliev. The eight-week program, which opened on July 4 and runs through the end of August, charges just a $10 membership fee for people who are not already members of the BCWSA. Existing members will be charged $5.
“I really think tennis should be available for everybody,” Iliev said. “It’s great for socializing, great for fun, and it makes you feel better about yourself.
“It’s great to see people get involved, no matter what physical barriers they may have.”
For more information on Aces on Wheels, call 604-768-4565.