For Anthony Iliev, holding a tennis racquet is about as natural as breathing and walking.
Having played tennis since the age of five, the 16-year-old student has now decided to use his passion to help those with disabilities experience the love of the game as well.
Partnering with the B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association, the teen has created Aces on Wheels, a program designed to give tennis lessons in Abbotsford and Langley to those in wheelchairs.
The idea came about last spring, after his friend in a wheelchair had come out to watch almost every single practice and game. Anthony became determined to find a way for him to play, too.
With no formal wheelchair tennis groups out in the Valley, he got out his pen and paper and outlined his own.
He then contacted the BC Wheelchair Sports Association with his idea and was thrilled when it was approved.
And so Aces on Wheels was born.
Anthony took a training course to become a certified wheelchair tennis instructor and is now going to volunteer summer lessons through his program.
“It’s a great sport for fitness and there’s a lot to the mental side,” said Anthony.
“It makes you feel better about yourself and makes you feel good about yourself. It can take a lot of people far, and boost a lot of people higher than they already are.”
The B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association is also supplying him with some specialty sports wheelchairs for participants who do not own one.
“He wants everyone to have access to learn a new skill,” said Eva ILiev Anthony’s mother.
The program started July 4 and will be held Monday nights from 4-5 p.m at the Mennonite Education Institute school in Abbotsford. The program is open to participants from Langley as well, and court times will be set up in both cities if enough interest is gained.
Cost is $5 for members of the B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association, $10 for non-members.
For more information on Aces on Wheels or to sign up for classes, contact the B.C. Wheelchair Sports Association at 604-333-3520 or Anthony Iliev directly at 604-768-4565.