V I Advisory Group Meeting Minutes


Location ITF Offices, Bank of England, Roehampton

Date and time 14th October 13.00 – 15.30



Jo Farquharson (Chair)

Sam Perks (minutes)

Jill Osleger

Liz Terry

Kirsty Thomson

Beth Shine

Amanda Green (Metro & IBTA)

Ian Francis (Metro)

Rosie Pybus (NEVITC & VI Advisory)

Andy Crockett (Coach)

David Vellala (Coach)

Fiona Musgrove (Vision4Growth)

Alex Wheen (Vision4Growth)

Steve Trewick (North East VI Tennis)

Wendy Glasper (North East VI Tennis)

Logan Gray (BBS)

Alaina MacGregor (BBS) – Webinar

  1. Welcome

Each member of the meeting introduced themselves.


  1. Approval of minutes and update of actions from previous meeting

All minutes from the previous meeting were approved.


Update on actions from the previous meeting:


2.1 Link on VI Tennis UK Facebook page to the minutes

Completed and this will happen post each meeting.


2.2 VI Guide to be sent to the Group

Update later in the meeting.


2.3 Review B1 player section process and circulate to the Group

Each member of the Group had been asked to nominate potential B1 player representatives to come onto the group. Jill has taken note of the nominations already provided, however if the Group had any further nominations, they were asked to notify Jill ASAP (by 21st October). The selected B1 player will be invited on to the Group by the end of November.


Alex highlighted the importance of notifying the VI community of the new member of the Group. This will be included on the Group section on the Tennis Foundation VI Tennis webpage by the end of the year.


2.4 Review Terms of Reference

Jill referred to the duties of each Regional Representative (Metro Blind Sport (South of England), Vision4Growth (Midlands of England) and North East Visually Impaired Tennis Club (North of England)) to be responsible for collating all information/issues from their region and bringing to the Advisory Group as well as ensuring that their region was informed of matters being discussed by the Group. This was agreed by all and the Tennis Foundation offered to support those who require assistance. It was noted that VI tennis clubs/organisations are interested in being on the Group  such as Sound Tennis Sussex and Glasgow VI Club. It was agreed that, at present, the Group is at maximum attendance. Instead the idea of a rotation policy was put forward to the Group whereby each member has four years before they step down. This allows other people within the VI community to have the opportunity to join the Group.


Alex stated that he has decided to step down from the Group due to his commitments. The Group thanked Alex for his time and input into the Group’s discussions.


Ian raised the point that a Volunteer Representation should be included in the Group. and it was agreed that would be looked into during 2017.


Jo stated that Mark Bullock, who attended a few Group meetings, has recently left the ITF and that they are currently recruiting a replacement. It is important to keep the ITF up-to-date with VI tennis and a representative of the ITF will be invited to the next meeting.


2.5 Notify Tournament Organisers and players that B4/B5 will revert back to 2 bounce/no volley vs B3 rule for the rest of 2016



2.6 Claire (BBS classifier) to be invited to next meeting

Sam stated that the Tennis Foundation had tried to get Claire to the meeting but this was not possible. Sam and Jill to invite Claire or another BBS international classifier to the next meeting. Fiona commented that Gatan is more than happy to attend the meeting or link in by video conference; Jo requested that classification was an agenda item at the next meeting.


2.7 B1 Classification update from BBS

Logan is only a month into his role and Aliana was not present so it was agreed that the update would be pushed back to the next meeting.


2.8 Overview of Jan-Apr figures, list of VI Tennis venues and 2015 VI tennis participation breakdown to all be included in the previous meeting’s minutes



2.9 September participation submission to include VI breakdowns (age and gender)

Completed and included with the agenda email.


Sam to add an overview of participation and breakdown to the Tennis Foundation VI tennis webpage with the minutes from this meeting.


2.10 Email to players regarding tiebreak cap



2.11 Ask IBTA if they can meet during the International Tournament

Amanda will schedule a meeting with IBTA at the tournament before the next Group meeting.


2.12 BBS to link the Tennis Foundation in with Action for Blind People national lead



2.13 Loughborough to host a Regional Tournament in 2017

Completed. Loughborough to host tournament on the 18th February.


2.14 International Tournament press release

This will go out post VI Nationals as there will be a buzz around VI tennis.


2.15 VI Awards second stage to have more blind/partially sighted people on

Completed. The judging panel in the second stage of the VI Awards process included two blind/partially sighted people. Five people were on the panel in total.


2.16 VI Awards video link to be included with the minutes



2.17 Fiona to relay comments regarding the VI Awards back to the project group



2.18 Communication to be included on the next meeting’s agenda



2.19 VI tennis strategy for promoting the sport on social media

Dealt with under the agenda.


2.20 Tennis Foundation and BBS to link in regarding blind/partially sighted workforce

Jill and Logan to take a lead on this moving forward with an update at the next meeting.


2.21 Email to players regarding closing date for tournaments



2.22 Closing date process to be reviewed for 2017

Completed and included with the Regional Tournament Rules.


2.23 Coaching technique variations to be sent to Sam

This is ongoing and Alex will send this through before the next meeting.


2.24 Host a Tournament Organisers course for 2017 tournament organisers

Completed. [The course was hosted on the 14th October at the National Tennis Centre.]


  1. Communication


Beth highlighted the improvements that had been made to the promotion of VI tennis across the UK. This was a good opportunity to discuss how best to promote the sport further.


It was discussed that best practice guidance for social media promotion would be a useful tool. Beth put a draft together and send it to the Group for comment before the end of October. Logan asked if this could include useful VI software/guides/apps. Amanda also asked if there could be advice on not overloading videos with music.


Fiona asked if there was a possibility of creating a specific VI tennis hashtag for promoting activity on social media. It was agreed that #VItennis would be used moving forward. Note to VI community to use #VItennis when promoting VI tennis via social media.


It was also noted that the Tennis Foundation is tagged in a lot of social media posts every day. In order to break through the noise and to ensure posts are promoted please tag the Tennis Foundation and use strong imagery (this could be images or the flyer/poster for an event).


Fiona also highlighted that Vision4Growth are using videos a lot more as they are more effective than images as more people can engage with them.


It was noted that the Tennis Foundation will be streaming the  VI Nationals via Facebook Live. The is the first time that the Tennis Foundation had streamed an event via this software. The stream will be promoted via the Tennis Foundation’s social media platforms and the rest of the group were asked to promote it before the event at the weekend. Wendy asked if the Tennis Foundation were happy with people using their own personal accounts to broadcast the tournament. This is not a problem and is encouraged during the weekend.


Jo mentioned that the media have an active interest in VI tennis so there is always value in engaging as much as possible with traditional media (radio, BBC Get Inspired etc).


A concern was raised regarding the publication of a B1 player ranking list on social media (similar to the ITF ranking system). Some players were unhappy that they were ranked on this list without prior consent. It was stated this was not an officially Tennis Foundation sanctioned list and that this should be noted on the social media post. It was felt that the post was not intended to embarrass or offend anyone but it highlighted the risks associated with social media and the importance of asking for consent.


It was also raised that although social media is a fantastic platform to promote VI tennis it can also cause issues such as incidents when people have left the sport due to disagreements on social media and it was emphasised that it is very important to express views in a respectful manner. Jo highlighted that this is a problem across social media. The Tennis Foundation can advise on best practices (to be included in the best practice guide) but is unable to control social media posts.


  1. VI Guide and Regional Tournament Rules


Regional Tournament Rules

Sam stated that the Regional Tournament Rules document for 2017 was sent out within the agenda email. The Group were given the opportunity to raise any concerns as the document included a change to the rules. The rule change is that all divisions (B1-B5) can now volley.  Amanda did raise one potential inconsistency in the Regional Tournament Rules regarding volleying and what happens in doubles and it was agreed to double check this.


The Group agreed that the volleying rule should change for 2017 so that all divisions can volley. It was stated that the reasons for changing the rule were:

  • Ensure the UK uses International (IBTA) sanctioned rules
  • The International Tournament, played under international rules, allows all players to volley so UK players will need to be prepared.
  • The rule ensures the VI version remains as close to the sport of tennis. This will help with the development of the game moving forward.


The group agreed to promote and support this message and the reasons for this decision to their contacts.


Kirsty and Sam gave the opportunity for the Group to suggest how best to distribute the Regional Tournament Rules. It was agreed that the rules would be distributed via:

  • Email to players and venues
  • Tennis Foundation website
  • Social media
  • Group to feed this back to their region


At this point Alex suggested that the B1 net height could be increased from 83cm to 90cm. The reason for this was to make returning easier as the ball has to travel higher over the net when serving which would speed up the development of the sport. The height increase would also make it easier to prepare the B1 court (some venues do not like people altering the net height). It was agreed that for 2017 it would stay at 83cm but could be reviewed during the year with coaches to gain feedback from B1 players.


VI Guide

Sam commented that the Guide had not been distributed to the Group due to rule changes over the past couple of months (i.e. court dimensions and volleying). It is important the Guide does not become outdated quickly so there was a desire to ensure all the information is up-to-date. The Guide has the same rules as the Regional Tournament Rules document including the update to volleying for all divisions. Sam will send the Tennis Foundation branded and accessible versions of the Guide to the Group with the minutes. The Group agreed to provide any comments ASAP (within a week). The Group agreed that the Guide should be distributed via the same channels as the Regional Tournament Rules document and sent to BBS. The Group agreed that printed copies of the Guide were not required.


It was noted that IBTA are creating their own guidance document to be used internationally but it was agreed to send our Guide to them (importance of copyright was highlighted). The only rule difference should be the racket size, as in the UK all racket sizes are accepted in domestic competition.


  1. Tournaments


Kirsty provided an update on Tournaments starting with Regionals.


Five Regional Tournaments have taken place in 2016 with 162 players competing:

  • Sutton = 35
  • Birmingham = 25
  • North East = 32
  • Cambridge = 41
  • York = 29


The National Championships will be taking place this weekend (15/16 October) with over 50 players due to compete. Everyone who entered was accepted including a few players that didn’t compete in the Regionals. This may not happen in forthcoming years, dependant on number of entries. A ranking system may be incorporated in the future but this will need to be discussed next year. Liz then summarised the point system that is used in the National Wheelchair Tennis Series i.e. players collect points in each tournament that they compete in throughout the year; points are on offer in both singles and doubles. Fiona stated that Sound Tennis Sussex had asked if there could be divisions in each category to separate the more experienced players from those who were new. Kirsty stated that this might be possible once we have more players. Jo stated that this take place within wheelchair tennis but they have fewer divisions (only men’s, women’s and quad) whereas in VI tennis you have B1-B5 and men’s and women’s which makes it more difficult.


Six Regional Tournaments have been confirmed for 2017 (dates and venues TBC).  It was noted that Loughborough has now been added to the calendar. There will be a mix of one and two day tournaments depending on the venue. Kirsty highlighted that there is room for one more tournament so if anyone from the Group has any suggestions please inform Kirsty no later than the end of October. The venue would need a good cohort of VI players and someone who is able to organise the tournament.

Jo noted that the development of the VI Regional Tournaments demonstrated the progression of the sport and the fantastic work that people are putting in.


Rosie mentioned there is a demand for specific double tournaments and asked if this is a possibility. Kirsty said that we will keep the Regional Tournaments in the same format but we could look into this in the future. Amanda stated Metro Blind Sport’s club tournament will be a doubles tournament as this proved to be very popular.


Kirsty stated that there will be a focus on juniors next year and asked if the Group knew of any VI tennis junior activity, please could they inform the Tennis Foundation as we are looking to have a junior section at the Nationals next year but this is dependent on demand. Steve stated that a school in the North East is interested in being a ‘hub’ for VI tennis. Jo asked that the development of junior players  be on the agenda at the next meeting.


International Tournament

Information on the  International Tournament will be sent out in November.


. Kirsty has nearly completed the selection policy for the GB team which she will send out to the Group by the end of November. A meeting may need to be organised to focus purely on the International Tournament. Liz mentioned that a member of the Tennis Foundation Performance team should be invited on to the selection committee as they have experience and knowledge of selecting teams which will help.


Some of the Group proposed that selection should be based on performance at the Regional Tournaments.. It was also suggested using the first two Regional Tournaments of 2017 as a ranking system for the International Tournament. It was noted that this would be too late notice as those players selected need to know at least a few months in advance. The Group agreed that although not ideal the most practical method would be using the 2016 Tournament results. This was supported by the fact the Tournament is an invitational event and not ‘official’.


It was agreed to contact the players as early as possible to see if they are able to compete in the Tournament.


Andy stated that the selected players could be advised to apply for Dan Maskell Tennis Trust funding to help with preparations for the International Tournament. Jill stated that the Tennis Foundation would look to organise a training camp before the Tournament.

Wendy asked if B4/B5s would able to compete at the tournament. It was confirmed that in accordance with International rules only be B1-B3 players will be able to compete. Even though there may be changes to classifications in the near future this is unlikely to be implemented before the Tournament in April.


Alex asked if all players are classified in their countries. Amanda replied yes and each country will have their own national organisation (e.g. BBS) which will be supported by the IPC.


Wendy then asked what the player costs would be. Kirsty confirmed that this is being finalised and will be included in the information that is sent out.


It was noted that the final decision of the selection policy and team would be the responsibility of the Tennis Foundation.


  1. VI Participation Figures


It was noted that this was not on the agenda and should be a regular item on the agenda going forward. Fiona stated that the monitoring process had been improved and is more accessible for those who are blind or partially sighted.

Jill highlighted VI tennis has had a great 2016 and both weekly and monthly VI tennis participation had increased. It was noted that the male/female split is quite equal (55% to 45%) but there is a big difference between under 18 and 18+ players (16% to 84%).


Jo stated that funding for participation is dependent on the support and funding of Sport England who have released their new strategy (link to www.sportengland.org/media/10629/sport-england-towards-an-active-nation.pdf). Alex asked when the strategy was going live. Jo stated that the Core funding pot (i.e. the National Governing Body pot) would be released in April 2017 and the Tennis Foundation was in the process of preparing its bid. However, there are six more funding pots which will become available in the future.


  1. AOB


Andy: trying to inspire more juniors into the sport and have encouraged Lydia (14yrs) to compete at the weekend.

Wendy: issue around Durham & Cleveland County Close with VI court dimensions. However the point was made that the VI Guide will help these organisations moving forward. This highlights the importance of the Group disseminating the Guide to relevant stakeholders.


Alex: Vision4Growth are looking to launch their second project which they will talk to the Tennis Foundation about. Progress to Level 3 coaching qualification – are there any changes planned to help those who are blind or partially sighted. Jill stated that the Tennis Foundation is working with the LTA and their course providers to ensure coaching qualifications are as accessible as possible with reasonable adjustments provided. Alex also asked if the Tennis Foundation could create a poster template which is similar to the Fair Play one to build awareness of VI tennis (adaptations of court size, bounces and sound ball). The Tennis Foundation had recently created flyers which can be amended to include information on different impairments. However, Jill/Sam will look into the possibility of these templates being included in the 2017 Network Packs.


Fiona: rumours that blind folds/eye shades for B1 players will be removed. Steve stated that at the moment, this is just rumours that the IPC is going to change the rule. Amanda also stated that the IPC rules do not affect the domestic game and it would only impact at an international level.

Sam: received a few items of note from people before the meeting.

  1. We can share information between Group meetings; it should not all be at the meetings.
  2. There have been concerns raised that there have been no updates from IBTA and people are wondering if the Tennis Foundation is not passing this on. It was confirmed that this is not the case and Amanda stated that there is nothing to report on currently except that an IBTA website is in development. However, Amanda will take this back to IBTA to remind the committee that it is important to update all countries even if there is nothing considered significant.


Jill: thanked Fiona, Wendy and Rosie for their time and effort to improve the Awards process for 2016 and ran through timings for the presentation on the 15th October.


Jo: thanked Alex for his contribution to the Group.


  1. Next meeting

January 2017 (date TBC) but it will be at the NTC or ITF.


Action Responsibility  Deadline
Add minutes and participation update to TF VI Tennis webpage and VI Tennis UK Facebook page. Sam/Beth End of Oct
Classification & Juniors to be on the agenda for the next meeting Sam/Jill Next meeting
BBS to ensure Claire or another classifier to attend the meeting Logan/Aliana Next meeting
Invite Gatan to the next meeting Sam/Jill Next meeting
Schedule a meeting with IBTA for the International Tournament Amanda Next meeting
International Tournament press release to be published Beth Post Nationals
TF & BBS to work together around disabled workforce Jill and Logan Next meeting
Coaching technique variations to be sent to Sam Alex Next meeting
Regional reps to be the lead in each area on VI tennis & to contact the TF if they require support in setting this up Metro Blind Sport, NEVITC & V4G Ongoing
Notify Jill of any additional B1 rep nominations & to invite player to group

Notify VI community of the B1 rep being invited on to Group

All & Jill



End of Nov

End of 2016

Volunteer rep to be looked at next year Jill 2017
Creation of social media guidance to be shared with Group Beth End of Oct
#VItennis to be used when promoting VI tennis on social media All Ongoing
Regional Tournament Rules double check volley inconsistency Kirsty ASAP
Distribution of Regional Tournament Rules Kirsty/All ASAP
B1 player views on increasing net height from 83cm to 90cm. All Next meeting
Circulate VI Guide to Group Sam ASAP
Group to provide VI Guide feedback within a week All ASAP*
Distribute the VI Guide Sam/All ASAP*
Send recommendations for additional 2017 Regional Tournament to Kirsty All End of Oct
Send through any developments in junior VI tennis to Kirsty, Jill and Sam All Ongoing
Send International Tournament Selection Policy to the Group Kirsty End of Oct
Group to feedback regarding Selection Policy All 7th Nov
International Tournament Selection Committee to be established Kirsty/Jo November?
Share ComRes research with Group so they can use the facts Jill ?
Read the Sport England strategy as it will help with future funding bids All Ongoing
Junior VI Tennis to be on the agenda for the next meeting Sam/Jill Next meeting
A member of the ITF to be invited to the next meeting Sam/Jill Next meeting
V4G to speak to TF regarding the launch of their second project Alex/Fiona Next meeting
Poster template for Regional Reps regarding VI Tennis Sam/Jill Next meeting
Information to be shared between the Group throughout the year, not just at the meetings All Ongoing
Encourage IBTA to share updates more widely so Group can share within the UK Amanda Next meeting
Provide a selection of dates for the next meeting at the NTC/ITF Sam ASAP