The International Tennis Federation's wheelchair tennis development plan targets an increase in the number of people and countries involved in the sport ©Getty Images

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has launched a wheelchair tennis development plan which bids to increase the number of players and countries offering activities.

The ITF's Wheelchair Tennis Committee project will benefit from an annual payment of $1 million (£820,00/€897,000) from the Kosmos investment group as part of its Davis Cup partnership, while the Cruyff Foundation will also support the plans.

The development plan has been created in collaboration with the ITF Development department and Wheelchair Strategy Taskforce with three core objectives.

These are increasing the number of wheelchair tennis players, increasing the number and geographical spread of national associations offering wheelchair tennis activities and developing talented players, particularly those from nations that are under-resourced and under-represented.

Player grants are aimed at assisting talented players in reaching their potential, while the ITF remains committed to enhancing wheelchair-specific coaching resources, including existing services such as the ITF Academy, the ITF's online education platform.

National associations will be offered financial assistance to host entry level international and regional wheelchair tennis events while development and equipment grants are also among the new initiatives.

ITF President David Haggerty said: "We are committed to this new wheelchair tennis development plan that will allow more disabled people worldwide to access this wonderful sport and its far-reaching benefits. 

South African Kgothatso Montjane has praised the ITF's wheelchair tennis development plan ©Getty Images
South African Kgothatso Montjane has praised the ITF's wheelchair tennis development plan ©Getty Images

"Wheelchair tennis players globally will have more opportunities to play the game and, potentially, have the opportunity to become stars in the future. 

"Wheelchair Tennis is stronger than it has ever been and we are confident that this plan will ensure the sport continues to thrive."

The development plan will focus on participation, performance, events and coaching, as well as facilities, investment and partnerships and administration, to achieve its objectives.

The Cruyff Foundation, an ITF partner for 17 years, has helped drive development activities in more than 45 countries, including the implementation of junior wheelchair tennis programmes which will remain at the heart of the development plan.

World number seven ranked player Kgothatso Montjane from South Africa has benefited from wheelchair development programmes in her home country.

"It's very exciting to hear that the ITF is investing even more in wheelchair tennis," said Montjane.

"From the time the ITF helped set up the wheelchair tennis programme in South Africa I quickly fell in love with the sport and it has given me so many opportunities and taught me so much. 

"It will be fantastic if other young wheelchair tennis players are able to have the same chances as I did to play the game."