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Athlete returns to competition after spinal cord injury

by Beth Redford

After a few days, I have recovered from playing in the recent Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association (GRWSA) Tennis Fundraising Tournament at Ramblewood in Grand Rapids.

The weekend started with picking up 3 cases of tennis balls for tournament director and wheelchair tennis head coach, Lynn Bender, and delivering them to Ramblewood. After being part of the WZZM13 interview and helping to set up, I played a first round match in the 6.0 womens’ bracket.

My partner, Karen Reid, helps out as GRWSA volunteer and coach. Karen was just one of many volunteers and supporters who helped and participated in this past weekend’s tournament. We are thankful for each one of them.

While we didn’t win our second match on Saturday , it was a close match that was challenging, yet fun. On Sunday, I played three matches of mixed doubles with another of our volunteers, Randy Kloostra. Both of our first two matches went to third set tiebreakers, which we hung on to win. This put us in the finals, but we came up against a better team and finished as runners-up.

Ten years ago, I was recovering from a spinal cord surgery after spending 4 weeks that summer at Mary Free Bed. As an athletic director for a local high school, I always enjoyed competition and being part of team sports. Connecting with GRWSA tennis has allowed me to travel, make many great friends, and enjoy competition again as a participant.

This tournament was just another experience to enjoy good competition and be a part of the fundraising efforts for GRWSA. It was especially rewarding to hear that the efforts of many paid off as we exceeded our fundraising goal. These funds will provide equipment, practice time, and opportunities for others to enjoy wheelchair tennis.

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