80 tennis players from 12 member organisations of MSOSZ (Special Olympics Hungary) took part in the 4th Special Olympics European Tennis Day, which was held at the wonderful deco-turf court hall of the Golden Ace Tennis Club, and honoured by the attendance of under-secretary of state for sports Dr. Tünde Szabó. The local municipality was represented by Deputy Mayor Zoltán Galgóczy, who has participated several times at the tennis tournaments of the Special Olympics Movement.
In her speech, the under-secretary of state said, ”This event revives the basic principle of the Special Olympics: the mentally impaired are capable – with proper help – to become active and useful members of society and parallelly, to enjoy work, human relationships, leisure activities and sports as well. It is our very important task to supply them with community and successful experiences and to open doors that can help them in catching up socially and in creating equal opportunities. In the development programme of tennis – a high priority sport –, the striving for integration of impaired and unimpaired athletes in both trainings and competition is a primary goal.”
On behalf of the Association, National Sports Director Dr. György Jády welcomed the top personality of Hungarian sports who, in her speech, raised attention to the team qualifying for the Winter World Games and named the successful athletes that achieved world class results not only at the World Games but also at other international tournaments in the strongest divisions as well.
The event served for the second time as an opportunity for the smallest to try tennis – members of MSOSZ ‘Kid Athletes Program’ who could participate at the tennis development activity games organised by the Balázs Brothers Tennis School, together with the special education colleagues who have recently begun studying the sport and who happily welcomed this 2-hour training opportunity to learn the basic tennis swings from the coaches.
The Hungarian Tennis Association was represented by President Dr. Lajos Szucs, Chief Executive Attila Richter and Davis Cup captain Gábor Köves, who gave not only professional but also material support to the participants of the tournament.
In the beginners section (red court), a record number of 45 athletes played for the gold medal in 8 divisions. In the intermediate section special tennis players have also participated, with their current performance earning them the opportunity to participate in the best (green court) section at the next tournament.
The most interesting program of the day was perhaps the very unique event of the International Special Olympics Association, the so-called ‘Unified Doubles Championship’ in which mentally impaired and unimpaired athletes formed doubles teams and played against each other.
At the tournaments in Hungary this championship generally invites celebrities who support the movement to play along with special athletes. This time, TV and radio hosts Balázs Sebestyén, Levente Harsányi and Attila Várkonyi – composer and performing artist, Viktor Rakonczai, saxophonist and pan pipe player St. Martin, kayak world champion Gábor Kucsera, actress Katalin Mérai, former national tennis player Katalin Marosi, sports reporter Dia Somogyi, and Dániel Titz, the winner of reality show Éden Loki, were amongst the star names participating in the doubles.