Wednesday 28th June 2006 by C. Freeman
Student, Dermot Bailey is not only a British sporting champion, but he's fast becoming a media luvvie as well! The Year 7 student, who plays wheelchair tennis, is ranked fourth British junior in the sport and Anglia News came along to Brooke Weston to film him getting some practice in.
Dermot, who at the age of 12, is British Open Junior Champion and National Novice Doubles Champion, is an old hand when it comes to being filmed as he has also appeared on a television quiz show. Filming at the College took two hours and showed Dermot in lessons and on the tennis court, practising shots with his coach, Wayne Tideswell and chatting with sports reporter, Fiona Mills.
Dermot has played wheelchair tennis for four years, but has used a wheelchair for six years after being diagnosed with a hip condition.
Dermot was recently featured on Anglia News
Wheelchair tennis is just like regular tennis but with one crucial difference: 'You're allowed two bounces before you have to hit the ball back but other than that all the rules are the same – you can't touch the net and it's played on a normal sized tennis court.' said Dermot, who was first introduced to wheelchair tennis when he went to the Nottingham Open and there was a wheelchair player there practising his shots.
Wheelchair sports are now a thriving with athletes being able to take part in activities such as basketball, table tennis, fencing, rugby and racquetball. Wheelchair tennis was first introduced to the Paralympic Games in Barcelona in 1992 and tennis Paralympian, Peter Norfolk who won gold at Athens, works for EPC (Equipment for the Physically Challenged) which built Dermot's wheelchair. It is a special sports model made from lightweight titanium. Its large sloping wheels and large stabiliser gives greater manoeuvrability and speed around the court. The chair was funded by the Get Kids Going children's charity.
Dermot practising shots with his coach, Wayne Tideswell
Dermot is left handed and so steers and hits the ball with his left hand which proves quite a feat and is impressive to watch. He is returning to Nottingham this year and hopes to play in the Men's C Division at the British Open this summer.
Dermot usually practices with Wayne for around one hour per week but has problems at his home town of Kettering as there are some courts he cannot access with his wheelchair.
Head of PE at Brooke Weston, Neil Shorrock has said that Dermot and Wayne can use the college courts and added: 'Dermot does take part in as many sports activities as possible, we are looking at trying wheelchair basketball next year and he also helps out by umpiring and time-keeping at some events. He has such a great attitude to sport which is borne out by his tennis success.'
His mother, Sarah Bailey said: 'Brooke Weston are very positive, they have been very accommodating. Dermot has settled in well and his school friends help to push his chair around and are very good with him.'