Why top young wheelchair tennis player takes to a different court

Top junior wheelchair tennis player Dahnon Ward reveals his passion for Derby Wheelblazers

Photograph of Dahnon Ward
Dahnon Ward in action during the first ever Bolton Indoor ITF Junior Series (Photo: Wheelchair Tennis LTA).

Dahnon Ward may be ranked as Britain’s number three for junior wheelchair tennis but its not the only court the 14-year-old has mastered.

That’s because when he’s not holding a racket, Dahnon is bouncing a basketball as part of the Derby Wheelblazers basketball team.

Dahnon, who has featured on Sky Sports for his tennis prowess, plays the game in a bid to stay active outside the tennis season and to enjoy a team atmosphere.

“There are certain things I get from wheelchair basketball that I don’t get from wheelchair tennis,” said Dahnon.

“Playing a team sport has its obvious benefits with there being a social factor.

“I’ve really benefited from the sense of community whilst playing wheelchair basketball.”

Dahnon has a rare condition called Category D proximal femoral focal deficiency. His condition means that he has a very short femur bone between his hip and knee, resulting in him having no kneecaps and needing a wheelchair.

His father, Ryan, introduced him to wheelchair basketball when he was around eight years old.

Dahnon said: “I was always into my sport since a very young age. After I ended up in a wheelchair, I was looking for somewhere to start sport wise so, my dad found the Wheelblazers and here I am.

“It’s a great community to be part of, I’m so glad that my dad took me to the session all those years ago.

“I’m so grateful for the club in helping me, it’s one of my favourite things to do.”

As well as the social side, Ryan says that his son has benefited many other things from his time playing with the Wheelblazers at Rykneld Leisure Centre, in Derby.

“It’s helped him a huge amount with his confidence, but also with his strength and conditioning,” he said.

“He already plays wheelchair tennis, so this sport for him is seen as a way to help maintain those physical attributes he has.

“After coming here, he has also benefited hugely from the social aspect – he has made friends all across Derby of all ages.”

Although Dahnon takes part in wheelchair basketball for fun, he has been making an impression for his ball-handling skills.

Blazers coach Martin Austin believes that Dahnon has potential to reach the top of the wheelchair basketball world if he chooses.

He said: “Dahnon is a great talent.

“Sometimes I have lads that come in here and don’t want to learn, or struggle to pick up the game.

“But Dahnon could honestly go as far as he wanted in wheelchair basketball.”