December 7, 2018
Fans get a treat every year at the Royal Albert Hall, as some of the best players in ATP World Tour history compete at the concert venue as part of Champions Tennis, an event on the ATP Champions Tour. But for the first time, the legends have not been the only special guests on the court.
Canine Partners has been providing Champions Tennis with its very own ball dogs. The dogs have been retrieving balls and giving the players their towels in the doubles matches. Some of the competitors involved include former World No. 1 John McEnroe and former British No. 1 Tim Henman.
Nineteen-time tour-level titlist Thomas Enqvist is competing in doubles in London, and he’s enjoyed this unique experience.
“The dogs were such a great addition to the match,” Enqvist said. ‘They are so impressive by how well trained they are and for them also be able to come out on the court where the crowd is always clapping for them and noises are just coming from everywhere. It is also great to be supporting Canine Partners, being such a worthy cause and it definitely got the crowd going!”
And Enqvist was not the only one. Mikael Pernfors was thankful for the help.
“The mouth and eye coordination was incredible, the catches they made were really good. Four legs are definitely much better than two, and they are certainly quicker than I am these days,” Pernfors said. “It was a lot of fun to have them on the court.”
Canine Partners is a national charity that provides assistance dogs to people with physical disabilities. Over the past 28 years, Canine Partners has provided and trained more than 750 dogs, including more than 400 that are currently active. The dogs are trained to help with everyday household tasks, such as opening and closing doors, unloading and loading the washing machine, picking up dropped items, pressing buttons and switches and getting help in an emergency.
Canine Partners receives no government funding and relies solely on public donations.