WAUWATOSA — Tennis is a sport that many people can play for a lifetime. It’s also one you can play even when you are off your feet and on wheels.
Jackie Egelhoff has lived much of her life on the tennis court.
“We are three generations of United States tennis professionals,” said Egelhoff, wheelchair tennis director.
Egelhoff is the head tennis coach at Homestead High School and has been for several years. She also coaches some players in wheelchairs.
“It’s amazing how a sport can send you in different directions,” said Egelhoff.
Egelhoff got involved in wheelchair tennis after a medical affliction affected her son.
“Some years ago, my son had a medical condition which involved some brain surgery, emergency brain surgery. Left him with some paralysis, and at that point, he was a competitive player, but obviously he wanted to give back and we got involved in wheelchair tennis and also adaptive tennis,” said Egelhoff.
“Everyone here is so nice and encouraging and good teachers,” said James Marlega, wheelchair tennis player.
“It was exciting not just because I could play the sport and learn the tricks of the trade, but also the kind of people who make up Jackie’s team, both as volunteers and other players, they were very inspiring and they made me believe that I could play tennis,” said Seetha Narayanaswamy, wheelchair tennis player.
For Dan Dorszynski, it’s a chance to keep playing the game he’s always loved.
“I have muscular dystrophy, so I was playing earlier in my life, standing and running, and then discovered wheelchair tennis about 12 years ago and I’ve been playing in a chair ever since then. It’s amazing because there was a time that I thought ‘when am I ever going to be able to go outside and play a sport again’ and to be outside instead of just stuck in front of a TV or a computer or a video game is way more exciting,” said Dorszynski.
Marlega started playing seven years ago, and now, he can’t put down the racket.
“I tried it for the first time and I had a blast. It was really fun,” said Marlega.
Fun could result in more people out on the tennis court.
“That is the challenge to the players — to know that this opportunity is available,” said Egelhoff.
“It wasn’t until after I saw other people playing wheelchair tennis that that I was like ‘OK, wow, I could actually play that again,'” said Dorszynski.
“All these people are active, want to do things in life, and so you get inspired and you get into things that you wouldn’t normally expect yourself doing,” said Narayanaswamy.
If you’d like to learn more about wheelchair tennis, they are holding a fundraiser at the courts at Homestead High School on Sept. 16.