The 2014 Special Olympics State Tennis Tournament

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"I want to come here because I think I can win the tournament and I just want to be the best that I can be in the tournament, " said one athlete, Nyles Taylor.

Nyles Taylor says he's been playing tennis for years.

That's why he was so excited to find out his team would be traveling from Montgomery to Dothan.

Nyles's mother says he was diagnosed with autism in 2011; she says she's grateful for programs like this.

"He does have communication and social skill problems so this has helped out a lot. He's become more active, more open, " said Nina Taylor.

"Its a great time, they learn. They learn skills that they wouldn't learn normally. They learn about team work, they learn how to be courteous and of course we learn how to play tennis at the same time, " said Dothan tennis team coach, Earl Kelley.

And Nyles isn't the only one working on his swing; his friends like Shelby and Anthony are just as excited and ready for some friendly competition.

"I'm happy to come up here and do my best on the tennis tournament and see if I can win the game, " said Shelby Bullen.

"Oh I love hitting balls but they cant stand it, I hit it over the fence, " said another athlete Anthony Whitehead.

More important than learning the game, organizers and parents agree, the life lessons they get, make for an invaluable experience.

"That they're included, that's the most important thing, they're not forgotten about so I'm glad there's an outlet for them to show their skills, " said Nina Taylor.

"I'm so excited and I'm ready to hit some balls, " said Nyles.

"And my thing is I'm ready to hit some balls and I want my dad and them to watch me on the TV and watch how I can do my best, " said Shelby.

There were a total of 14 athletes competing in the tournament.



 
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