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In Buenos Aires, Argentina, The Blind Can Play Tennis: Here’s How

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA -- Nine-year-old Felipe Angiono is blind since birth, but he is getting a chance to play tennis thanks to the work of a man who decided to figure something out for the visually impaired.

"I was looking for something about it on the Internet and discovered it in Japan," said Eduardo Rafetto, who researched the work of the late Miyoshi Takei, who invented a form of blind tennis in 1984. "I put myself in contact with them, and that's how it began," said Rafetto.

Image: Eduardo Raffetto, Felipe Angiano,
In this Nov. 12, 2014 photo, 9-year-old Felipe Angiono, center, is welcomed to his first tennis class by Eduardo Raffetto, right, the director of the Argentina Tennis Program for Visually Impaired in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The program offers the first opportunity for some visually impaired Argentines to play sport. Natacha Pisarenko / AP

The court is the size of a badminton court, the net is lower, and the rackets have bigger heads and shorter handles. The ball is made of foam and filled with metal pellets that rattle when hit. When the ball is served, it can bounce three times before being returned. The boundaries are marked by cords fastened to the ground so players can feel them with their feet.

Felipe is one of about 20 students taking lessons at Centro Burgales in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Caballito. Players range in ages from 7 to 60, and many practice twice weekly on two courts.

"I really like the sound of the ball, this tic-tac sound," Felipe said. "I also like the way players scream when they serve."

The young boy said his tennis idol is Juan Martin del Potro. He said he wants to be like him.

--The Associated Press