Dave Sherriff (left) and Glenn Barnes with their silver medals for wheelchair tennis at the Invictus Games 2016 in Orlando, Florida.
7 January 2017
The Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Dave Sherriff and his doubles partner Glenn Barnes have been rewarded for winning a silver medal at last year’s Invictus Games in Florida by being named the joint 2016 Tennis New Zealand Wheelchair Players of the Year.
The Invictus Games are an international Paralympic-style multi-sport event, created by Britain's Prince Harry, in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans compete.
Mr Sherriff, who is supervisor of the Engineering Drawing Office at RNZAF Base Auckland, and Mr Barnes, a former New Zealand Army soldier living in Christchurch, were both left paraplegic after private vehicle accidents.
Making their achievement of finishing runner-up to a British pair at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida, even more outstanding was the fact that whereas Mr Barnes is an experienced wheelchair tennis player and had competed at two Paralympic Games in the sport, Mr Sherriff had been playing for just a few months.
Mr Sherriff, who captained the New Zealand Defence Force Invictus Games team for the second time in Florida, said the Tennis New Zealand award was an added thrill after the pair’s success in Orlando.
“Naturally it is a great honour to be named as player of the year in any sport,” he said. “As someone new to wheelchair tennis I’m pretty shocked to receive this honour.
“When it was announced that tennis doubles would be included at the 2016 Invictus Games I knew Glenn, who had competed at the Barcelona and Athens Paralympics, would need a partner, so I had to learn quick!
“I would say I had five months’ in training total, including one warm-up tournament.
"It was awesome to make the finals after such a short amount of time in the game. I couldn't have got there without Glenn’s coaching and support.”
Mr Barnes said Mr Sherriff’s rapid improvement in the sport had been outstanding.
"I've been playing for about 17 years, but for David to play at this level after only a few months is incredible. I have so much respect for him."
The pair received the award at the 2016 Tennis New Zealand Annual Awards at ASB North Wharf in Auckland tonight.
The Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies, said he was proud that the achievements of Mr Sherriff had been recognised by Tennis New Zealand, and congratulated both award winners.
“Dave has already excelled in a number of sports at the Invictus Games but to gain this success so soon after taking up wheelchair tennis is simply outstanding,” he said.
After claiming the silver in Florida so soon after taking up the sport, Mr Sherriff has just one goal for the next Invictus Games, in Toronto, Canada, later this year.
"It's got to be gold," he said. “In the final in Orlando against the experienced British pair we got off to a slow start, which is difficult to recover from in the shortened format of the Invictus Games.”
He will start his build-up at the New Zealand Open in Albany on 23-26 January, a tournament in Christchurch on 28-29 January and at the World Masters Games during late April. All of these events will attract international players.