United States Tennis Association (USTA) teaching professional John Stone began the Special Olympics NC Tennis program in Sanford in 1985.  Tennis became a statewide SONC sport at the 1986 Summer Games in Charlotte.  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.

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. Due to the use of PTR Speedballs, the dimensions of the individual skills stations has changed. Please use these diagrams to train your athletes.

Short court match play is very similar to the USTA quick start tennis. Athletes play on a modified court (within the service boxes), and with a larger tennis ball made of compressed foam. Athletes may choose to compete in two of three short court match play events which include singles, traditional doubles, 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.

Level Four Tennis is played on a full court, but is played with a low compression “Green Dot” tennis ball and is designed to provide a transition from Short Court Tennis to Full Court Tennis. Please contact Lauren Saulter if you are interested in providing this opportunity for your athletes.

SONC Fall Tournament will be held in Charlotte, NC this year from November 3-5.

Additional competition opportunities will be available for Unified Sports.  This is being done in anticipation of potentially removing all Unified competition from state-level events starting in the 2018-2019 program year.

SO Orange County Invitational will take place on Sunday, October 1st from 1 PM to 5 PM at the Chapel Hill Tennis Club (403 Westbrook Dr, Carrboro NC 27510). ISC, Short Court, and Full Court (including green dot) will be offered. Singles, doubles, and Unified Doubles will be offered depending on the mix of participants. A snack will be provided, but those attending should eat lunch beforehand. As soon as possible please email both SO Orange County local coordinator Colleen Lanigan and coach/SDT member Rich Green regarding your intent to attend and include an approximate number of athletes in each category (Skills, Short Court, and Full Court).  On or before September 22nd please email a list of athletes along with the designation of category. Any changes/updates to that can be emailed to Colleen and/or Rich as well.

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

Special Olympics National Tennis Invitational Tournament is hosted by Special Olympics North America and Special Olympics South Carolina, and is traditionally held in Hilton Head in November.

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.

Sport Development Team

These volunteers advise SONC staff regarding sport rule modifications, competition and also train coaches in their sport! For more information on the athletics sport development team, contact one of the members below or the Sports Department.

John Gray
Charlotte, NC

Rich Green
Chapel Hill, NC

Steve Hochstrasser
Jacksonville, NC

Find out which sports are offered in your community

Tennis Invitationals

The following invitationals are hosted by the local program indicated. Information will be posted as soon as it is received. Please note that these events may have a per person registration fee for the local program to cover the expenses for the event.

  • Mecklenburg County Tennis Tournament: Charlotte – April 8, 2017



All forms must be submitted by the local program coordinator.

Fall Tournament Sport 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.

  • Tennis Individual Skills Competition Registration Form
  • Tennis Short Court Rating Registration Form
  • Tennis Full Court Rating Registration Form

Assessment Forms

For coaches’ use only – do NOT submit with registration


Certified Clinician

In addition to the sport development team, these volunteers are able to conduct local sport specific training schools on behalf of SONC. For more information on becoming a certified clinician, contact Andrea Stamm.