Game On: Learn about the divisioning process that differentiates Special Olympics from other sport organizations.

SONC offers three different types of competition: individual skills, short court match play and full court match play.

Individual skills competition allows Special Olympics athletes to develop sport skills in a competitive format designed to serve as a stepping stone to match play. The individual skills offered for tennis are forehand and backhand volley, forehand and backhand groundstrokes, deuce and advantage court serves, and alternating groundstrokes with movement. Individual Skills uses the red felt tennis ball. Please use these updated diagrams to train your athletes as the scoring has been changed.

Short court match play  is played on a modified court (within the service boxes) with a red felt tennis ball that has a lower compression. Athletes may choose to compete in two of three short court match play events which include singles, traditional doubles (two Special Olympics athletes), or partnered doubles (non-Special Olympics athlete partner of significant tennis ability).

Full court match play is played on a full court with traditional tennis balls. Athletes may choose to compete in singles and either traditional doubles or Unified Sports doubles. Athletes may choose to play level 4 (full court but played with a low compression “Green Dot” tennis ball), or level 5 (using a traditional yellow tennis ball).

Short Court athlete and Unified partner ITN assessment materials – Assessment form, Instructions, Instructional video 

Full Court athlete and Unified partner ITN assessment materials – Assessment formInstructions, Instructional video

Click here to find your coach certification status.

Always communicate with your local coordinator if you are interested in submitting registration for an event.

Fall Tournament/Invitational Registration Forms

Local program coordinators should submit entries along with the remainder of the Fall Tournament registration.  Click here for a full list of Fall Tournament registration forms. These forms will be available closer to the event date.

Full Court athlete and Unified partner assessment materials
Assessment Form, Instructions, ITN Assessment Guide, Instructional video

Short Court athlete and Unified partner assessment materials
Assessment formInstructions, Instructional video

Individual Skills 
Individual Skills Worksheet – For coaches use only, do not submit with registration.

SONC Fall Tournament will be held November 1-3, 2019 in Charlotte.

SONC Harnett County/Campbell University Tennis Clinic

Special Olympics North Carolina Harnett County and Campbell University’s men and women’s tennis teams will host a tennis clinic on Saturday, September 14th from 9:30 – 11:30 am! This clinic will take place at 235 Gregory Circle, Buies Creek, NC 27546.  Registration will be open until Tuesday, September 9th.  Click here for more information!

Hanover County Multi-Sport Invitational

New Hanover County is hosting a multi-sport invitational on Sunday, October 6th!  This invitational will feature basketball, bocce, soccer and tennis competition and will be held in various locations throughout Wilmington.  Currently, this invitational is only open to invited programs.  Form more information contact


Athletes and partners also have the opportunity and are encouraged to participate in various local invitationals. Check the tennis sport calendar for upcoming invitationals being hosted by local programs.

Local programs are also encouraged to host and invite neighboring counties to participate in invitationals, scrimmages, or leagues.  Click here for some basic steps on how to get started.  If you are interested in hosting an invitational you can also contact the sports department at

SONA National Tennis Championship

The 2019 SONA National Championship will be held October 17-19 in Hilton Head, South Carolina!  Registration will be on a first come basis instead of quota-based as done in the past.  Completed event registration is due by July 30th, but we will be accepting registration from now until this date.  Please contact for more information.

Abilities Tennis Association of North Carolina (ATANC)

ATANC hosts numerous additional tennis opportunities for athletes throughout the year. Check out the tennis calendar to find upcoming ATANC events. For more information contact Lou Welch at

There are also several other competition opportunities for Special Olympics North Carolina athletes that are offered by programs outside of SONC. More information about these events will be posted as it is made available.

About Tennis: Tennis is a popular sport played by players of all ages, at all levels of ability. Athletes are trained in all aspects of the game, including stroke production, court craft and the rules of competition. The sport emphasizes values, such as fair play, sportsmanship, and respect for fellow competitors. Tennis is not only fun to play, but it is a lifetime sports activity that is fun to practice and fun to learn.  

Differences of Special Olympics Tennis:  The Special Olympics rules for Tennis provide modifications to control the length of matches through no-add scoring and options for short Sets. More recently, Special Olympics has introduced additional options for shorter courts and low-compression balls for athletes of lower ability.  

History: Tennis became a statewide SONC sport at the 1986 Summer Games in Charlotte. 

By the Numbers:   

  • United States Tennis Association (USTA) teaching professional John Stone began the Special Olympics North Carolina Tennis program in Sanford in 1985. 
  • Special Olympics North Carolina was represented by three tennis athletes at the 1991 International Summer Special Olympics Games.  Bob Bowler of Mecklenburg county attended as the coach for Team NC. 
  • In 1992, tennis moved to the Fall Tournament and except for a two-year stint at the Midsummer Tournament, it has remained a fall sport. 

Sport Development Teams (SDT) are responsible for assisting with local and state-level programs and competition, educating coaches and officials, and promoting active engagement among athletes throughout the year. Click here for more information.

Rich Green
Chapel Hill

Steve Hochstrasser

Certified Clinicians receive additional training in presentational skills to conduct training schools in their community.  In order to become a Certified Clinician one must have a Special Olympics North Carolina level 2 sport certification in this sport.

For more information on becoming an SDT member or a Certified Clinician, contact

Find out if this sport is offered in your community

Become an Athlete or Unified Partner

Special Olympics North Carolina offers sports training and competition in 19 Olympic-type sports to children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  Learn more on how to become an athlete.

Become a Unified partner and play on a team alongside athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Become a Coach

Combine knowledge and passion for a sport by becoming a Special Olympics North Carolina coach to lead athletes in preparing for local and state-level competition.

Become a Volunteer

Serve a crucial role at Special Olympics North Carolina by volunteering at our office or one of our many events throughout the year. Check out our home page for these volunteer opportunities.

Share Your Sport Knowledge

Officiate for Special Olympics North Carolina by donating your time as a sports official.  Contact for more information.

Sport Development Team members (SDT) are active volunteers who channel their passion and knowledge for a sport into effective leadership for local and state programs.  

Certified clinicians supplement the SDT by providing coaches training in their community.  Click here for trainers.

For more information on getting involved, contact