We are so proud of all of our athletes, and want to share their accomplishments with you! Meet Laurie Zalmanowitz a WSA tennis athlete. We asked Laurie some questions to get to know him better:
How long have you been playing your sport?
I first tried wheelchair tennis in 1998 and have been playing wheelchair tennis competitively since 1999, so about 21 years now. Prior to that I played able-bodied tennis recreationally.
How did you start playing your current sport?
Just after having to use a wheelchair with the help of my parents we sought out opportunities and options that I had to continue participating in sport. There was some large tournament or exhibition, with some of Canada’s top players held in Edmonton, so I got to see the sport, get some tips and try out some tennis chairs. There were also lessons available from one of the local coaches at the U of A Tennis Centre (now the Saville). I was trying a lot of different sports at the time but tennis was one that really interested me and I found that there were lots of opportunities in the sport for me.
What is your favourite sports memory?
This is a tough one, because there are a few. One would be my first World Team Cup in Italy in 2002. It was my first time representing Canada and just the scale of the tournament was something that I hadn’t been a part of before. I got to learn a lot from this experience and it was great being around the older players and coaches on the team. Another would be successfully defending my Single’s US Collegiate title in my final year of undergrad, it was a great way to end my college career.
What do adaptive sports mean to you?
Adaptive sports mean the world to me. They were and still are a very big part of my life. I was always a very active person before needing to use a wheelchair (due to a nuero-muscluar disorder called dystonia), so when I started using one I had the mentality that I needed to stay active and find opportunities to get involved. It’s been critical for me for my physical and mental health and I think it helps with social connection as well.
What are your future sport goals?
In terms of future goals, I’m kind of at the point where I’ve dialed back the amount of competing I’m doing as work has shifted to the forefront a bit more. I’m really grateful for the opportunities and experiences I’ve had and want to continue to have more of those where I can. I still want to continue playing for as long as I can. I also want to keep giving back to the community both as a player, through sharing my experiences and knowledge with new players and in my role as a psychologist.
What would you say to someone who is looking to get into wheelchair sports but is nervous to try?
I’d say that you just have to go out at give it a shot and just have fun with it. The only way to really know if you like something is to try it and for the most part other players are happy to help you out and give tips.