Wheelchair tennis is a sport for people with mobility issues in their lower bodies. The athletes utilize wheelchairs specifically designed for the sport. The courts are regulation size and no modifications are made to the balls or rackets for wheelchair tennis. There is an alteration in the rules to allow the ball to bounce twice before the player returns the ball. The following wheelchair athletes are kindling new fires in the world of tennis.
- Sabine Ellerbrock: Sabine Ellerbrock was born in 1975 in Bielefeld, Germany. After 25 years of playing and coaching tennis, Ellerbrock developed a serious foot infection after a surgery in 2007. Her entire right foot had to be amputated due to loss of blood to her muscles and nerves. Determined not to be sidelined by her mobility needs, she trained as a wheelchair athlete. Ellerbrock claimed a grand slams singles title in 2013 at Roland Garros, competed at the Paralympics and performed well at the French Open in wheelchair tennis competition. The tennis champ has reawakened. She is expected to continue to triumph in 2015 as well!
- Michael Jeremiasz: Michael Jeremiasz was born in Paris, France in 1981. Jeremiasz enjoyed sports beginning at a very young age, including basketball, skiing, swimming and tennis. In 2000, he suffered a spinal injury during a skiing accident. Jeremiasz quickly adapted to a wheelchair designed for tennis athletes and picked up his racket. He competed at the inaugural wheelchair competition at the United States Open and he is expected to compete in June 2015 at the Roland Garros Wheelchair Tennis Event in Paris. He currently claims the rank of number 15 in the world for men’s singles player.
- Esther Vergreer: The wheelchair athlete, Esther Vergreer was born in 1981 in Woerden, Netherlands. At the tender young age of eight, surgeons performed a risky procedure to save her life by correcting a spinal defect. Vergreer was paralyzed as a result of the surgery. As part of her rehabilitation efforts, Vergreer obtained a sports wheelchair. Basketball was her sport of choice, until she tried her hand at tennis. She quickly learned to position the chair to acquire maximum force to return the ball. She attributes the ability to focus mentally on the game as her secret weapon in dominating her opponent. She retired in 2013 with a winning streak of 470 career wins!
*Photo courtesy of Flickr’s Creative Commons.