Visually impaired Highgate tennis star Ryb disappointed to not add to his medal haul
- Credit: Archant
A year ago Highgate visually impaired tennis player Paul Ryb secured his second international medal representing Great Britain.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic having ended Ryb’s hopes of bidding to complete a hat-trick of medals this month at what is often referred to as the sport’s world championships, it’s done little to dampen Ryb’s enthusiasm and he is already back on court in Highgate.
A multiple National champion, Ryb had been selected by the LTA to play in Piancavallo, Italy, at the fourth annual International Blind Tennis Tournament organised by the International Blind Tennis Association. With gold and bronze medals secured at the equivalent 2018 and 2019 tournaments in Dublin and Benidorm, the former investment banker was hoping to return home with a third medal this week.
“I was extremely proud to get the GB call again, particularly since it is now so much more competitive, with very good players all vying for selection for the one place per sight category,” Ryb admitted.
“My main rival in this country is Chris Blake and we have truly excellent matches together.
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“Last year in Spain, I struggled with the difficult lighting and court colours, and was disappointed to lose in my semi-final match to a play from Spain, especially after having had match points. This meant I missed out on playing a Mexican in the final and meeting a player I beat in 2018.”
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.
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“I lost my central vision back in 2007 and through engaging with the charities Macular Society and Blind in Business I got introduced to Metro Blind Sports and VI (visually impaired) tennis.
“I loved the sport before and preferred tennis over the other VI sports simply because it avoided physical contact and brutal injuries from the likes of goalball and VI soccer.”
With 30 years’ experience working in the investment banking sector, Ryb had to retire early due to his sight problems. He now spends most of his time working on the boards of various charities, with tennis providing a welcome outlet.
“I’m obviously gutted that this year’s international event, along with the planned 11 LTA national
events so far, have been cancelled. But I have just got on court at my local Highgate Tennis Club.
“It’s great to be back on court, however playing outside presents further challenges with the glare and breeze affecting the ball. Really, only playing indoors is the best for us.
“Life in the lockdown has been slow but I get to spend a lot of time with my beautiful daughters and walking the dog. It’s been tough, though, because my girlfriend is over in the US and i cannot get over to see her.”
As part of its disability work, the LTA supports and promotes visually impaired tennis in Great Britain, including delivering regular weekly and monthly sessions as part of the LTA’s disability open court programme, subsidising camps to help players develop their skills and running a series of regional and national tournaments for blind and partially sighted players of all abilities.
To find out more about the LTA’s work with disability tennis, head to www.lta.org.uk/play or