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 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 the 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, 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 if you are interested in providing this opportunity for your athletes.

Click here to find your coach certification status.

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

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

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

Fall Tournament/Invitational Registration Forms

SONC Fall Tournament will be held November 9-11, 2018 in Charlotte.

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 2019-2020 program year.

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

The 2018 Special Olympics National Tennis Invitational Tournament will be held October 18-21, 2018.  This event will be held at the Van der Meer Tennis Center in the Shipyard Plantation on Hilton Head Island.  Click here to request quota to attend the event.  All quota requests must be submitted by Tuesday, July 24, 2018.

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.

Abilities Tennis Event hosted by Special Olympics Orange County 

Abilities Tennis Association of North Carolina (ATANC) is holding tennis scrimmages hosted by Special Olympics Orange County. This event will take place on Sunday, October 7th at the Chapel Hill Tennis Club, 403 Westbrook Dr, Carrboro, NC 27510. This event will run from 1:00  – 4:00pm with check-in beginning at 12:30pm. Competition will include Full Court, Short Court, and Individual Skills Tennis. Traditional and Unified Doubles will be played as well as Singles if time permits. To register click here. For more information please visit or contact Lou Welch at

Host an Invitational

Local programs are encouraged to invite neighboring counties to participate in invitationals, scrimmages, or leagues.  Click here for some basic steps on how to get started.

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