The sport of tennis requires physical and mental stamina. A player must move towards the ball quickly and return the ball to the opponent’s side with strategic moves. Athletes with mobility issues may play tennis with the assistance of a special lightweight maneuverable wheelchair. Many wheelchair tennis players have perfected maneuvering techniques and other skills to become top rank athletes. These three wheelchair tennis athletes prove determination and hard work pays off!
- Jiske Griffioen: Jiske Griffioen has ranked among the top women’s wheelchair tennis players for several years. She was born with spina bifida. Although born in the Netherlands, she moved to Amsterdam in 2010 to work at a tennis academy. She played both wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball from the age of 10. The Dutch ladies wheelchair basketball team made it to fourth place in the 2010 Paralympics with Griffioen as a member. 2561 Since the win in the Paralympics, she has focused on tennis. She has won the Australian Open, the Roland Garros, Singles Master and the Paralympics in 2008 and 2012.
- Dana Mathewson: At 10-years old, Dana Mathewson was at soccer practice, when she noticed a sharp stabbing pain in her lower back. Her legs became very weak and all her limbs went numb. She quickly became paralyzed from the waist down. The doctors discovered that she had contracted a rare neurological disease known as Transverse Myelitis. The disease affects the spinal cord and the immune system. Mathewson soon took up wheelchair sports. Her wheelchair high school basketball team finished second in the nation. She is currently part of the women’s wheelchair tennis team at the University of Arizona.
- Jordanne Whiley: Jordanne Whiley is the U.K.’s most successful women’s wheelchair tennis player ever by winning four grand slams. She is currently ranked number 6 in the world for singles and 2nd place for doubles. She won a bronze at the London Olympics in 2012. Whiley has a grueling training schedule despite the brittle bone disease that restricts her to a wheelchair. The disease is known as osteogenesis imperfecta. In Whiley’s case, it was passed on genetically through her father. He is a successful wheelchair tennis athlete also and has coached Whiley. She first discovered tennis at the age of 3.
(Photo is courtesy of Jiske Griffioen by Robbie Mendelson at Flickr’s Creative Commons.)