READY Kevaughn Merrill awaits his turn during a lesson in blind tennis at Lighthouse International in Manhattan, an early adopter of the game. (SOURCE:

………..Now he is 19 and almost completely blind, and his favorite sport is tennis.

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 thePerkins 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.

Sejal Vallabh, a 17-year-old high school junior in Newton, encountered the sport during a summer internship in Tokyo and then proposed the program at Perkins. She set up a volunteer organization, Tennis Serves, which introduced the sport last year at Lighthouse Internationalin New York and the California School for the Blind in Fremont……….

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How it works -Equipment

Tennis SERVES uses equipment that relies on the senses of hearing and touch.

Sound-Adapted Tennis Balls

Made in Japan, each adapted tennis ball contains a small ping-pong ball filled with many small metal balls. These balls rattle on impact, allowing the athlete to locate the ball by hearing it.


Our athletes use junior-sized tennis rackets, measuring 19 inches in length. The rackets have a large head and short grip.


Blind tennis uses badminton nets, which are lowered to the ground and are shorter than tennis nets.

Tactile Court

The court size is smaller than a regulation tennis court. Lines are defined by taping string to the ground using duct tape. This way, athletes can use their feet to feel where they are on the court.  SOURCE: Tennis SERVES