VISUALLY impaired tennis star James Currie admitted he was “gutted” not to be able to get the chance to regain his ‘world’ title.

The Prestwich star was selected to represent Great Britain at the International Blind Tennis Tournament – regarded as the sport’s world championships – but the event in Italy was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Currie was runner-up in the B2 category last year in Spain – losing an epic final on a tie-break – having won the title the previous year on his GB debut in Ireland.

“I was extremely proud and honoured to have been selected again to represent Great Britain in the VI tennis world championships in Italy,” said Currie, a highly successful multi-medallist at national level

“I’m absolutely gutted that it was cancelled due to coronavirus, as I had put a lot more training in with my coach and the GB team.”

Last year in Benidorm, Currie narrowly missed out on a second gold medal by the smallest of margins and was hoping to get the chance to regain his title last month in Piancavallo, Italy.

“The competition has improved immensely in all categories, so to not get the opportunity to try again is disappointing,”added Currie.

“I came runner-up in an epic match which lasted two hours and 55 minutes and I was beaten in a tie-break.”

Bury Times:

With ambitions to become a Paralympic sport in the future, tennis for blind and visually impaired players is adapted from the full court version to a smaller court, with lower nets and using an audible ball so players can hear it bounce and being hit.

Players are classified into one of a series of categories from B1, which is for blind players, through to B2, B3, B4 and B5, which cater for differing degrees of visual impairment.

Depending on an individuals’ sight level they may have up to three bounces of the ball before they must return it back to their opponent.

Currie, who trains at the Manchester Regional Tennis Centre at Sportcity, said: “I have always been visually impaired. I lost my right eye when I was three months old, due to a condition called Retinoblastoma, which is a tumour on the optic nerve. I have also always been a sporty person. I started off in athletics, then played cricket and, also, football in the VI league for 30 years. I played internationally for Scotland and Great Britain. I have been playing VI tennis for about six years now.”

Currie trains under the guidance of coach Sam Coates and alongside fellow B2 player Amanda Large.

Both Curie and Large have been integral to the overwhelming success of Great Britain squads at the last two international championships, with Large winning the gold medal in the B2 women’s singles in both Dublin and Benidorm.

Last year Great Britain topped the overall medal table, winning more medals than any of the other 14 nations who were competing for honours in Benidorm.

For now, Currie will have to put international ambitions on hold, but is keen to return to training in the hope of domestic tournaments organised by the LTA being possible in the not too distant future.

He said: “I have not been able to play tennis since it started. I have been exercising every day and power walking and hitting a ball off the wall in our yard but being outside it’s not good as it could be indoors, it’s often too bright or too dull with the light. Manchester City Council have not opened up the outside courts as yet, but when they do we will try and see if we can have a hit.”