A PRESTWICH man is celebrating after winning an international tennis tournament.

Jim Currie, aged 61, won the gold medal for Great Britain at the International Blind Tennis Association tournament in Dublin last month.

More than 60 players from 14 different countries took to the court across four classifications for different levels of visual impairment.

Mr Currie, who lives in Bedford Street, Prestwich, has an artificial eye and qualified to take part in the B2 men's section of the competition after winning the British title two years running.

And he was one of six of Britain's seven players who took home gold at the tournament, which took place at the Shankill Tennis Club from April 26-29.

Of his victory, he said: "It is quite overwhelming. I have won the national competition two years running but to be world champion is just the ultimate success.

"I started playing about five years ago. I have always played cricket and football but I stopped that a few years ago and was not doing anything.

"Some of the guys I played football with said they had started playing visually impaired tennis and it went from there."

The sport, which is promoted and funded by the Tennis Foundation, is played with a large, spongy ball with a bell inside to make it audible to players.

A smaller court than usual with a lower net is also used due to the balls being softer, and players are allowed up to three bounces before returning

Players are classified according to their visual ability, ranging from B1 - players who are totally blind - to B4 - players who are partially sighted.

Despite more than 400 people reportedly playing visually impaired tennis across Britain, it is yet to be made a paralympic sport, although Mr Currie says he is hopeful that will change in the coming years.

Originally from Edinburgh, he moved to Greater Manchester about 30 years ago, and trains at the Etihad Stadium with fellow GB gold medallist Amanda Large, as well as playing in regular regional competitions around the country.

In his spare time, Mr Currie also volunteers at Bury Blind Society, something he started doing more than eight years.

He said: "I was made redundant from British Telecom and the job centre asked if I wanted to do some volunteer work at the Blind Society so I got an interview and I have been volunteering ever since.

"I like doing it because I feel as though I am giving something back because I have been visually impaired all my life."