Tennis rookie Dahnon lands a national title

Dahnon Ward, a national wheelchair-tennis champion. (PHOTO BY: James Jordan/Tennis Foundation)
Dahnon Ward, a national wheelchair-tennis champion. (PHOTO BY: James Jordan/Tennis Foundation)

A student from Kirk Hallam Community Academy is celebrating after winning a national wheelchair-tennis title only 14 months after taking up the sport.

Dahnon Ward took the accolade for 11-to-14-year-olds in a particular category after beating boys who have represented their countries.

The 11-year-old, of Kirk Hallam, started playing wheelchair-tennis in October 2015 at Nottingham Tennis Centre because he’d been forced to quit football after several operations on his left leg, which is about two-thirds the size of his right leg. Dahnon was born with a rare condition that means he has a very short bone between his hip and knee, and no kneecap.

His dad Ryan and mum Phae said they were extremely proud of their youngest son. Mr Ward said: “He had to give football up because he needed to wear an

extension frame on his leg, so I started looking for other sports and came across wheelchair-tennis.

“Dahnon wears a prosthetic leg and doesn’t use a wheelchair, so he wasn’t keen to get in one at first. But we persuaded him to give it a go and he just took to it really quickly. To win this title is an amazing achievement as it was his first competitive tournament and we weren’t sure if he was ready.”

Dahnon trains at Nottingham Tennis Centre and Loughborough University and also plays at Ilkeston Tennis Club.

Mr Ward added: “We rang Ilkeston Tennis Club and the secretary came to see us. He gave us reduced membership for the whole family, so Dahnon could use the courts. There are three children there now playing wheelchair-tennis and we can’t thank the club enough. They’ve been incredibly supportive.”

Dahnon, who also plays wheelchair-basketball, said his ultimate goal was to compete at the Paralympic Games one day. He added: “I was really nervous going into this competition and I was pleased to win. Wheelchair tennis is hard, but I enjoy it.”