A VISUALLY-impaired tennis player from the Isle of Wight who has not let his disability get in the way of being a top sportsman, will soon have his number two world ranking confirmed after serving up a superb performance in last week’s International Blind Tennis Tournament, held in Spain.

Neil Fradgley left the damp of his home in Ryde to jet off to the warmth of Benidorm to compete for Team GB — winning silver in the B4 (partially sighted) mixed singles event and helping his country walk away as the leading medal winners from the 15 participating nations.

Over the four-days, Neil, 52, enjoyed the round-robin tournament — beating GB team-mate Rosie Pybus,Germany’s Cora Berger and Italian, Alessandro Candido, before eventually losing to Aussie, Ricky Segura.

Isle of Wight County Press: Neil Fradgley. Photo: Lawn Tennis Association.Neil Fradgley. Photo: Lawn Tennis Association.

“It was a fantastic week and a fantastic achievement for the team. I’m glad to come home with silver.” said Neil.

“When the official world rankings are announced soon, I’ll be ranked two in the world.

“A professionally managed team delivered exceptional results. I have been so proud to have been part of this team and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

“We’ve supported each other all the way, helping to overcome obstacles and cheering each other on the route to success.”

“There is debate whether the tournament will take place next year, but I hope so, with Italy or India in line to host it, so as long as I can keep on playing my best, I hope to get selected for GB again.”

Isle of Wight County Press: Neil Fradgley, of Ryde, is the world number two visually impaired tennis player in the B4 category.Neil Fradgley, of Ryde, is the world number two visually impaired tennis player in the B4 category.

Neil, born visually impaired (VI), is no stranger to representing his country, having earned a cap for England’s VI football team 32 years ago.

Winning and being a success in tennis is as important to Neil as making people more aware of VI or blind tennis.

“Awareness is key. Blind tennis is the fastest growing disability sport in the UK, with more than 400 playing it — and the numbers are going up all the time,” said Neil, who learned the game at the Portsmouth Tennis Centre.

“I’ve been involved in VI sports all my life — grabbing opportunities thrown my way, which is why I try to promote participation.

“It was an honour to represent my country for a second time on the international stage.”

VI tennis is adapted from the full court version to a smaller court, with a lower net. It also uses an audible ball so players can hear it bounce and being hit, and, depending on an individual’s sight level, they can also be allowed up to three bounces before they must return it back to their opponent.

“The coaches at Portsmouth Tennis Centre are very encouraging and have really brought my game on,” adds Neil.

Neil’s next events will be at London’s National Tennis Centre in September, one at Birmingham in October, and the National Championships in Wrexham in November.