The Irish blind tennis team is preparing to take part in the Blind Sports World Games later this week.

The games are organised by the International Blind Sports Federation and will be held in Birmingham in the UK.

The Irish team ranges in levels of vision, from partially sighted to totally blind, meaning that the players have to keep a keen ear on the ball.

The game differs from sighted tennis in a number of ways. The ball is made of a foam-like substance and contains a small rattle-sounding bell so players can locate it.

Players are categorised depending on their level of vision, from B4 which is limited vision, to B1 which is no vision.

The number of bounces allowed on each side of the net depends on the severity of their visual impairment.

Riya Devereux, one of the younger players making up the Irish team, said that the rule is one of the major differences between sighted and blind tennis.

She says: "I think the biggest difference between blind sports and sighted sports is who you're playing against.

"I'm a B4 player, so in competitions, I'll only ever really play against B4 players. So you're only ever playing against someone with relatively the same amount of sight that you have, which makes life much easier."

Ms Devereux said that another factor which separates blind tennis from sighted tennis is the support not only amongst players on the same team but the opposition too.

She says: "When you win a point or you do something well, the people around you are smiling and clapping and happy that you're doing well.

"You hit a good shot and your opponent is smiling and clapping for you, I've never experienced that before, but it's something I've really seen in visually impaired tennis."

"It's a really good opportunity to discuss with people what works in terms of dealing with your disability and to discuss what works and how to explain it to people.

"It's really important to be able to speak with like-minded people who also love tennis. The feel similarly to you on different things because you share that challenge which is pretty integral to your life."

In 2017, Marguerite Quinn suffered a life-altering brain aneurysm, leading to 12 months of recovery and she was left visually impaired and had to relearn how to walk.

Six years on, she dances about the tennis court, smashing the ball back and forth and going for gold at the world games.

When asked what motivates her, she responded: "To prove that no matter what happens in your life, because what happened to me was a life-changer, that you can achieve success and you can become passionate about something again.

"I would have felt quite down, I ended up in a wheelchair for a while, in a coma for three weeks, in hospital for nearly a year.

"There have been a lot of things to come through, so this next step, at this stage in my life, after something traumatic happening is just unbelievable, and I'm not going to mess it up if I can help it."

Blind tennis in its current form was started in Japan in 1990 and was officially launched in Ireland by President Michael D Higgins in 2016.

Since then, Ireland has competed in the Blind Tennis World Championships and hosted the tournament in Shankill in May 2017.

A director of Tennis Ireland Liam O'Donohoe aims to achieve his goal of bringing blind tennis to as many people as he can.

"We have a goal and we will achieve it, to have at least one blind tennis centre county in Ireland. Currently, we're in ten, but in three years' time we're going to have one in every county, Mr O'Donohue says.

"We have around 150 players around the country. We see the impact, the fun, the joy, they get from Blind Tennis. The more people we can give that opportunity to, the better.

"If you go to our website,, you can see the list of the current clubs in counties. But, if you don't recognise where you live there, then tell us and we'll see if we can start a group for you. Because we want this to be available to everybody."