News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, June 16, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's often referred to as a lifetime sport, but for some, they are calling it life changing.
A wheelchair tennis tournament Saturday brought top players from all over the country to Augusta.
David Williams is the top ranked wheelchair tennis player in the country. He participated at the tournament at the Newman Tennis Center.
"[I am] currently the number one player in the country in A division and have been for the last six years," Williams said.
He has been playing since age 14 when a virus left him in a wheelchair.
"I was able-bodied until I was 14 years old and I contracted a really rare virus," he said. "It's literally one in 2.3 million at the time."
For him and many others participating in wheelchair tennis, it's been life changing.
"I struggled with confidence when I was first in a wheelchair and thinking that I was less than and this has really been an avenue to give me a lot of confidence and I wanna see younger people coming in and doing the same thing," Williams said.
"They said I'd have to hold a racket and push a chair and I told them no, but Cinco de Mayo 2001 they had a clinic and I tried it and never looked back," said participant Harlon Mathews. "It's changed my life,"
This weekend, the Walton Foundation is hosting the second annual Wheelchair tennis tournament. It is the third leg of the Georgia Grand Prix that brings in players from all over.
"We're gonna attract players from other states, from the Carolinas, from Tennessee, Florida and a lot of people from Georgia," Matthews said.
This is the first year they are holding a GrandPrix and Williams says he's hoping it'll bring more people to the sport.
"My physical therapist told me one thing when I was 14 years old and I never forgot it," Williams said. "He said by the time you do all the things you can do, there's not time to think about all the things you can't do and for me, that has been what I've lived my life by."
The tournament continues with the singles and doubles finals on Sunday morning.
On Monday nights, the Walton Rehab Foundation sponsors a wheelchair tennis clinic at the Raes Creek Tennis Center.
Have information or an opinion about this story? Click here to contact the newsroom.
Copyright WRDW-TV News 12. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished without express written permission.