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Thread: Wheelchair tennis nets positive spin/Wheelchair tennis helps disabled resume active lives

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    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Wheelchair tennis nets positive spin/Wheelchair tennis helps disabled resume active lives

    Wheelchair tennis nets positive spin



    By Debra Shannon
    Special Correspondent

    May 9, 2003

    Marge Cohen became partially paralyzed 10 years ago when a bag of books fell on her, causing a severe spinal cord injury.

    The Delray Beach resident never dreamed that one day she would be playing wheelchair tennis every Tuesday night at the Patch Reef Park Tennis Center in Boca Raton.

    "It's close to impossible at first, because in tennis you have to meet racquet to ball, but I also have to move my wheelchair," said Cohen, who is in her 50s.

    She has formed close friendships with other wheelchair tennis players and credits Patch Reef Park tennis pro Kari Yerg-McGinn with helping her develop a positive outlook on life.

    "Coming here is a feel-good pill for me, and I wouldn't be doing what I am doing now if not for Kari and her family," said Cohen, who has limited use of her hands and plays in a motorized chair.

    There are about 10,000 wheelchair tennis players in the world and about 100 of them live in South Florida, according to Yerg-McGinn. Most of them are familiar with the Boca Raton resident and her parents, Dick and Sandi Yerg of Delray Beach.

    Tennis has always been a family affair for the Yergs. Sandi Yerg, 62, is a former high school tennis coach who still plays eight times a week. Dick Yerg, 64, was a sports writer for the Westchester Rockland newspaper in New York.

    At 36, Yerg-McGinn's credentials include being chosen to coach the U.S. Quad Team for the 2002 World Team Cup and the juniors for the 2003 cup.

    In 2002-03, she was the United States Tennis Association's high-performance wheelchair tennis coach.

    Now, the three of them organize wheelchair tournaments, coach and run free weekly clinics for players of all ages.

    On a recent Tuesday night, Dick Yerg fed balls across the net to two wheelchair players, while Sandi Yerg did a tennis warm-up with another player.

    "Wow, good try," Dick Yerg said to encourage his student.

    "Nice hands," Sandi Yerg bellowed out to a player who hit a great alley shot.

    On a nearby court, Kari Yerg-McGinn hit balls with her husband, Johnny McGinn, 31, who she met at a wheelchair tournament three years ago. They married six months later.

    A former college soccer star, McGinn was paralyzed in a car crash when he was 24.

    "Nice, babe," she encouraged him, as he returned a strong backhand shot.

    Yerg-McGinn, a Pennsylvania State University graduate who has coached two World Cup wheelchair tennis teams, teaches and coaches able-bodied Patch Reef Park men's and ladies' teams.

    But there's no doubt that coaching wheelchair tennis is her passion after watching her run the tournament desk at the Florida Open International Wheelchair Tennis Tournament in April at Patch Reef Park.

    During that sweltering week, 192 of the world's best wheelchair tennis players descended on the tennis center, battling it out for rankings and titles in their specially designed slanted tennis chairs on the courts.

    "This is the world's largest wheelchair tennis tournament, and it was voted 2002 Tournament of the Year by the International Tennis Federation," boasted a proud Yerg-McGinn, who is able-bodied but has a tennis wheelchair that she often plays in to relate to her players.

    In wheelchair tennis, the players get two bounces. Otherwise, the game is the same.

    Yerg-McGinn's teaching philosophy emphasizes that there are no such words as "I can't."

    "It makes me highly annoyed when an able-bodied person complains about some petty thing on the court, because I deal with reality every day with Johnny in a chair and 190 players," she said.

    "Don't tell me you can't. You may have difficulties, but physically you can."

    Only about a dozen cities in the United States offer wheelchair tennis clinics like this on a weekly basis, Yerg-McGinn said. She said it's possible for Boca Raton to offer these free wheelchair clinics because of financial support from Meg Gale of Greenacres' Molly B Fund, which helps fund the Palm Beach-based National Wheelchair Sports Fund.

    The fund is named after the Unsinkable Molly Brown, for Gale's upbeat attitude, and helps causes ranging from the environment to children and the disabled.

    "Kari and her mom are inspiring. They are tough and they treat us like athletes," said Delray Beach resident Fernando Garcia, 27, who has been coming to the Tuesday night clinics for two years. "They push us to the next level, and when we are tired they keep pushing."
    Copyright © 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/loc...sfla-news-palm

    [This message was edited by Max on 05-09-03 at 07:42 PM.]

  2. #2
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Wheelchair tennis helps disabled resume active lives

    Wheelchair tennis helps disabled resume active lives



    By Debra Shannon
    Special Correspondent

    May 9, 2003

    John Becker was paralyzed from the waist down 19 years ago and spent 12 of those years watching television and playing video games in his bedroom.

    Five years ago, a friend brought him to the Patch Reef Park Tennis Center in Boca Raton, and he saw something that changed his life.

    "I saw a bunch of guys in chairs and I watched them play wheelchair tennis. Then they asked me if I wanted to come out and play," said Becker, 35, who now has a world ranking in the top 180. "I had no idea this was going on five minutes from my house."

    Today, Becker, who was injured in a car crash, plays the sport five times a week. He credits Patch Reef Park tennis pro Kari Yerg-McGinn with helping him develop a love of the sport.

    "She brought me out of my room, and I now get out a lot more," said Becker, who scuba dives and snow skis with the new friends he made. "I am never bored."

    There are about 10,000 wheelchair tennis players in the world and about 100 of them live in South Florida, according to Yerg-McGinn. Most of them are familiar with the Boca Raton resident and her parents, Dick and Sandi Yerg, of Delray Beach.

    Tennis has always been a family affair for the Yergs. Sandi Yerg, 62, was a high school tennis coach who still plays eight times a week. Dick Yerg, 64, was a sports writer for the Westchester Rockland newspaper in New York.

    At 36, Yerg-McGinn's credentials include being chosen to coach the U.S. Quad Team for the 2002 World Team Cup and the juniors for the 2003 cup.

    In 2002-03, she was the United States Tennis Association's high-performance wheelchair tennis coach.

    Now, the three of them organize wheelchair tournaments, coach and run free weekly clinics for players of all ages.

    On a recent Tuesday night, Dick Yerg fed balls across the net to two wheelchair players, while Sandi Yerg did a tennis warm-up with another player.

    "Wow, good try," Dick Yerg said to encourage his student.

    "Nice hands," Sandi Yerg bellowed out to a player who hit a great alley shot.

    On a nearby court, Kari Yerg-McGinn hit balls with her husband, Johnny McGinn, 31, who she met at a wheelchair tournament three years ago. They married six months later.

    A former college soccer star, McGinn was paralyzed in a car crash when he was 24.

    "Nice, babe," she encouraged him, as he returned a strong backhand shot.

    Yerg-McGinn, a Pennsylvania State University graduate who has coached two World Cup wheelchair tennis teams, teaches and coaches able-bodied Patch Reef Park men's and ladies' teams.

    But there's no doubt that coaching wheelchair tennis is her passion after watching her run the tournament desk at the Florida Open International Wheelchair Tennis Tournament in April at Patch Reef Park.

    During that sweltering week, 192 of the world's best wheelchair tennis players descended on the tennis center, battling it out for rankings and titles in their specially designed slanted tennis chairs on the courts.

    "This is the world's largest wheelchair tennis tournament, and it was voted 2002 Tournament of the Year by the International Tennis Federation," boasted a proud Yerg-McGinn, who is able-bodied but has a tennis wheelchair that she often plays in to relate to her players.

    In wheelchair tennis, the players get two bounces. Otherwise, the game is the same.

    Yerg-McGinn's teaching philosophy stresses there are no such words as "I can't."

    "It makes me highly annoyed when an able-bodied person complains about some petty thing on the court, because I deal with reality every day with Johnny in a chair and 190 players," she said. "Don't tell me you can't. You may have difficulties, but physically you can."

    Only about a dozen cities in the United States offer wheelchair tennis clinics like this on a weekly basis, Yerg-McGinn said. She said it's possible for Boca Raton to offer these free wheelchair clinics because of financial support from Meg Gale of Greenacres' Molly B Fund, which helps fund the Palm Beach-based National Wheelchair Sports Fund.

    The fund is named after the Unsinkable Molly Brown, for Gale's upbeat attitude, and helps causes ranging from the environment to children and the disabled.

    "Kari and her mom are inspiring. They are tough and they treat us like athletes," said Delray Beach resident Fernando Garcia, 27, who has been coming to the Tuesday night clinics for two years. "They push us to the next level, and when we are tired they keep pushing."
    Copyright © 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/loc...sfla-news-palm

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