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Thread: Able to beat the best

  1. #1
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Able to beat the best

    Able to beat the best
    Wheelchair tennis champ just 'very competitive'
    Lance A. Lewin - For the Journal-Constitution
    Thursday, June 27, 2002


    Thirteen years ago, Keith LeClaire and some friends decided to take their three-wheel all-terrain vehicles out for a little off-road spin. He didn't know that ride would change his life.

    LeClaire, who was riding without a helmet, was doing just fine until he came on a rough stretch of gravel road and lost control of his vehicle. The ATV flipped and skidded down a 16-foot embankment, leaving him with a spinal cord injury.

    The injury seated LeClaire's frame, but not his determination.

    He's managed to develop what most would consider a weakness into a medium he can use to help himself and others. LeClaire has attempted to advance his life at work and enjoy his leisure time as any able-bodied person.

    LeClaire, who lives in Lawrenceville, has soared to become the USTA's No. 1-ranked wheelchair tennis player the past two years, even though he's never taken a a professional lesson.

    LeClaire, who was named the best singles wheelchair player in Georgia last year, is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation.

    In his last tournament in May he lost to John Becker in the semifinal round of the Atlanta Championships.

    A year ago LeClaire won the USTA Outdoor Championship, beating Marty Anderson 6-0, 6-2. He won the Cajun Classic, beating Phil Copeland 6-3, 6-2. He won the Music City Championship 6-4, 6-1. He lost in the semifinals of the U.S. Open in October, falling to Anthony Meadows 7-5, 7-6, and reached the semifinals of the USTA/PTR Championship.

    Wheelchair tennis players follow the same rules as able-bodied players, with the exception of allowing the ball to bounce twice before they hit it. Wheelchair tennis is a feat of strength and endurance, especially at LeClaire's level.

    Observers might think LeClaire plays tennis to prove a point, but he doesn't share that view.

    "The reason I compete is because it is in my blood," he said. "My dad and brother and I have always been very competitive, and so it is a natural part of my life."

    But LeClaire doesn't let his competitive spirit cloud his vision. He plays hard and accepts the results.

    "I don't let a bad match ruin my day; I instead thank God that I was able to play," LeClaire said.

    Another facet in LeClaire's life is his business.

    He is the owner and speaker for Reality Check, a Georgia-based company that promotes safety and disability awareness. He gives lectures and video presentations to area schools, Boy Scout meetings, PTA gatherings and various businesses.

    "When I started Reality Check, I was able to spend more time with my son and wife, and was a lot more in control of my life," LeClaire said.

    An important part of the program is helping students leave behind all the misconceptions about people with disabilities.

    "I gain their respect, but they don't put me in that box anymore," he said. "Knowing that even one life has been changed or impacted by Reality Check is very rewarding."

  2. #2

    Great Article

    I am thinking about getting back into tennis, I have played some since being injuried, its still fun although a little frusterating, I guess I need to spend more time practicing.

    "Life is about how you
    respond to not only the
    challenges you're dealt but
    the challenges you seek...If
    you have no goals, no
    mountains to climb, your
    soul dies".~Liz Fordred

  3. #3
    Agreed Curtis. I'm thinking about picking it up as well.

    Onward and Upward!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Jeff's Avatar
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    Give me a souped-up IBot...

    and strap a racket on my right hand and I'd consider wheelchair tennis. Other than that I dunno... My rehab facility played a wheelchair basketball game against the doctors once and it really turned me off to wheelchair sports. Of course, being a quad, only four months post, using a heavy-as-hell steel wheelchair and unable to dribble might have had something to do with it. They put me in for a couple minutes where I managed to set up a couple picks, not on purpose, lol. And in spite of having a couple dead-shot paras on the team we still lost to the docs by a ten point margin. It was great, though, seeing my neurologist and urologist on the floor. MCHV had a great SCI program and that was way back in 1980. They had a SCI clinic you could go to at least once every year where you'd see all the specialists the same day. Plus you'd meet all the other SCI that were there.

    I'm not sure about tennis but at my level handcycling and watersports seem to be my niche. If any quads enjoy tennis please let me know. My wife really wants to play.

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~

  5. #5
    Senior Member KLD's Avatar
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    Tennis

    Jeff, I know a number of people with C6 and C7 injuries who play tennis. You do need an adapted racket for grip. Don't rule it out.

    Basketball is not practical for quads, but have you tried quad rugby? I actually enjoy watching this more than basketball.

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