Search This Blog

Monday, February 22, 2010

Masahiro Honma readies for the New Zealand Wheelchair Tennis Open

I went to the Tennis Training Center in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, about 32km from my home. Masahiro Honma, one of the athletes on Japan’s national wheelchair tennis team, had scheduled four hours of workouts with the team’s coaches and physical trainers.

Leaving at 6:30 a.m., I thought I’d have plenty of time to reach the center before Masa started his workout at 8. About eight kilos out, the morning rush hit, and it took me nearly as long to drive those eight kilos as it did the first 24. At any rate, I arrived at the Tennis Training Center about 10 minutes late. Story of my life.

Masa was already on the center indoor court with his instructor. The two hour workout concentrated on one aspect of Masa’s game at a time. Serving. Volleys. Pinpoint returns. Backhands. Forehands. The works.

At 10, he switched from his tennis chair to his “life” chair and we went into the lounge to wait for the physical trainer.

Masa told me that the Tennis Training Center teaches about a dozen and a half wheelchair tennis players, including the top four on Japan’s national team. Shingo Kunieda, the No.1 wheelchair tennis player in the world, trains at TTC.

The New Zealand Wheelchair Tennis Open will be held in Hamilton, NZ, March 5-7, and Masa is the fourth seed. “I need to make the semifinals,” he said. “Especially as I’m seeded fourth.”

He put in a hard day on the courts. When the physical trainer arrived, the two of them headed outside for “wheelchair training.” No use of tennis racket involved. It’s all starting and stopping, turning and whirling, speeding through a multiple slalom of pylons, working to whittle down the time.

Tomorrow, Masa’s daughter finds out if she passed the entrance exam to the high school of her choice; one where she can be in a high-caliber hip-hop dance organization. Masa spoils his only child, but she loves her Dad.

Today, Masa put in a thorough workout. He bundles his tennis chair into the back of his Daihatsu Move van and stashes his racket case alongside the chair. You can tell he’s totally in control. No doubt he’ll do well in New Zealand.

Masahiro Honma with Paralympic long jumper Mami Sato and a wheelchair tennis teammate.

Masahiro and teammate with NPO STAND officer Kazuko Ito and sportswriter Seijun Ninomiya

No comments:

Post a Comment