Conner Stroud is not your average tennis player. The 15-year-old athlete from North Carolina has proximal femoral focal deficiency, or PFFD. People impacted by this rare condition are born without legs.
In spite of his disability, Conner has defied all odds by becoming one of the best junior wheelchair tennis players in the world. His wheelchair is fully-equipped with a built-in security strap for himself, a back pocket for holding his racquet, and spokes for storing tennis balls.
Conner is currently the top-ranked junior wheelchair tennis player here in the U.S. He’s even played in several tournaments overseas. At home, the successful sophomore is a starter for his high school tennis team. Although he’s confined to his wheelchair, Conner still has the courage to compete against able-bodied players. Last season, he even held the No. 3 rank on his team.
Even though he loses many of these school matches, Conner’s positive attitude and competitive spirit keep his passion alive for the sport. He’s still a reigning champ in the world of wheelchair tennis. His perseverance and remarkable hand-eye coordination have enabled him to accomplish extraordinary feats in the game.
This summer, Conner was just one of three teens chosen to represent the U.S. in the biggest junior wheelchair tennis team competition in the world: The World Team Cup. Throughout the event, he participated in six games, which were all held in Turkey. Conner won five of these matches.
Aside from wheelchair tennis, Conner spent several years competing against able-bodied players. He would show up to these matches on rubber stoppers, which he attached to the stumps of his legs. Nevertheless, Conner still managed to beat a few of his opponents.
His tremendous talents have even been recognized by tennis legends. In 2013, Conner got a chance to practice with some of the best players in the sport, including Andy Roddick and Jim Courier. He even got to meet with his favorite player, Rafael Nadal.
After meeting with Conner, Nadal made the following statement to reporters: “He’s playing tennis. That’s a great example that you can be happy even if life doesn’t give you everything. It’s a big example for me and should be a big example for a lot of people.”
Contributed by Nedda Grady