How a banker became a double visually impaired tennis champion in just seven years

23 October 2023, 13:46 | Updated: 23 October 2023, 14:16

Naqi Rizvi hopes that one day, blind tennis will have the same prominence as mainstream tennis where blind tennis players are paid, have sponsorships and ample media coverage.
Naqi Rizvi hopes that one day, blind tennis will have the same prominence as mainstream tennis where blind tennis players are paid, have sponsorships and ample media coverage. Picture: Naqi Rizvi
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

The UK and World No.1 in blind tennis shares his journey to becoming a double champion in the sport.

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Naqi Rizvi was born visually impaired, becoming fully blind at seven years old.

He started playing the sport in 2016 and quickly "fell in love" with playing blind, or visually impaired, tennis.

The tennis player quickly excelled in his category.

Seven years on, the banker by profession quickly rose the ranks and has now become not only the UK but the world's no.1 in his category.

He won the UK national championships in 2021 and 2022 at the Visually Impaired National Finals.

Mr Rizvi won his single and double matches in Birmingham.
Mr Rizvi won his single and double matches in Birmingham. Picture: Naqi Rizvi

This year, Mr Rizvi won gold in The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Game in both his single and double matches in Birmingham in August

Mr Rizvi also played in Poland, who were hosting the International Blind Tennis Association World Championships where he won gold.

Mr Rizvi won gold in Poland.
Mr Rizvi won gold in Poland. Picture: Naqi Rizvi

12 different countries played in the tournament but Mr Rizvi won, becoming the world champion in his category.

He said it was an "absolutely incredible experience [to] compete in an environment which is really friendly but at the same time incredibly competitive."

Before his championships, it was always Mr Rizvi’s dream to be the UK and World No.1.

When he achieved this he said it felt "surreal that it finally happened."

Blind tennis is split into four categories: B1, B2, B3 and B4.

B1 is for completely blind players, like Mr Rizvi, whilst the latter three are for visually impaired players.

B1 blind tennis is also known as sound tennis.
B1 blind tennis is also known as sound tennis. Picture: Naqu Rizvi

Mr Rizvi coined B1 blind tennis as "sound tennis" as players rely on sounds, and also touch, to play a match.

This includes a bell in the tennis ball, a tactile base line, and players being required to vocalise when they are "ready" to serve.

The UK and World No. 1 hopes that one day, blind tennis will have the same prominence as mainstream tennis where blind tennis players are paid, have sponsorships and ample media coverage.

The tennis player said that he has spent "a lot of personal money" into the sport and said the journey has been difficult.

He added: "I would like to call out how hard I have worked over the last few years and played in all sorts of conditions to maximise my time on court."

The UK and world blind tennis champion hopes his sport will be as prominent as mainstream tennis.
The UK and world blind tennis champion hopes his sport will be as prominent as mainstream tennis. Picture: Naqi Rizvi

Mr Rizvi noted that his journey has been supported by volunteers and "incredible institutions", including his tennis club and Metro Blind Sports.

When not on the court, Mr Rizvi leads an active lifestyle, running between 5km to an entire marathon and playing goalball - a sport specifically created for the blind and visually impaired.

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