The photo of a tennis game above may look a bit strange to you: the court is a bit small, the net is a badminton net lowered to the ground, and the oversized ball bounces two to three times and jingles because it has ball bearings inside. But strangest of all are the players: they're blind.
Welcome to blind tennis, a sport that was invented in Japan back in 1984 and is now growing in popularity in the USA:
Thomas Lin of The New York Times has the interesting story: Link
When he first heard about tennis for the visually impaired, his reaction was “No way!” he said. “I was skeptical.”
So were faculty members at the Perkins School for the Blind here, when a sighted student from nearby Newton proposed it nearly two years ago. But Perkins, known for athletic innovations like adapted fencing, decided to offer what are believed to be the first blind tennis classes in the country.
Like tennis for sighted people, the game requires speedy court coverage and precise shot-making. Blind players rely on their ears to follow a foam ball filled with ball bearings that rattles when it bounces or is struck.
“Your ears have become your eyes,” said Dr. Robert Gotlin, director of orthopedic and sports rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.