GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Eighty wheelchair tennis athletes are convening in Grand Rapids for the 2018 Midwest Wheelchair Tennis Championships, presented by Mary Free Bed Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports.
This highly competitive, hometown tournament features a mix of amateur and elite athletes such as Paralympian Nick Taylor and Mary Free Bed athlete Mayleah Koop (seated in photo at right).
In 200-plus matches, athletes will compete for more than $15,000 in prize money. Twenty international athletes, from countries such as Australia, Brazil, Nigeria, Japan, Portugal and Russia, are among those competing in this International Tennis Federation level 3 and United States Tennis Association Category II event.
Taylor, a five-time Paralympic medalist, has won three gold, one silver and one bronze during the summer games in Athens (2004), Beijing (2008), London (2012) and Rio (2016). He also has dominated in 11 Grand Slams, winning at the British Open and U.S. Open in doubles.
Born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital condition that affects the joints, Taylor uses a power wheelchair to compete. He’s known for his unique serving style, in which he tosses the ball using his feet. Taylor is consistently ranked in the top three in the world for wheelchair tennis. This is his first time back to Grand Rapids since 2013.
Mayleah, a West Michigan athlete, was born in Vietnam. As a young child there, Mayleah was seriously injured in a bus accident that led to the amputation of her left leg and severe damage to her right leg. Her brother died in the crash. Mayleah’s mother was unable to support her and left her in a street center for abandoned children where she spent several years before she was adopted by a U.S. missionary and came to live with a family in Jenison.
She became involved with wheelchair sports through Mary Free Bed during middle school and played wheelchair basketball at University of Arizona. She’s new to competitive tennis and said she is excited for the upcoming tournament.
When: Tournament play begins 8:30 a.m. Friday, July 13, and continues through Sunday, July 15
Where: MVP Athletic Club – Crahen, 115 Crahen Ave NE, Grand Rapids
What: Wheelchair Tennis Tournament and interviews with athletes
ABOUT MARY FREE BED
Mary Free Bed is a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich. Since 1891, Mary Free Bed has restored hope and freedom through rehabilitation for children and adults who have experienced brain injuries, strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple traumas, amputations, cancer and other diagnoses. The combination of more than 110 specialized medical and sports rehabilitation programs and an exclusive focus on rehabilitation enables our specialty physicians and staff to help patients achieve outstanding clinical results. For additional information, visit maryfreebed.com.