Emily Hangstefer (right, with teammate Laura Chapman) won two medals at the 2013 Deaflympics in Sofia, Bulgaria.
© Courtesy USADSF
By E.J. Crawford, USTA.com
At the 2013 Deaflympics in Sofia, Bulgaria, Emily Hangstefer paired with Laura Chapman to win the gold medal in women’s doubles, snapping a 16-year medal drought in tennis for Team USA. She then teamed with her brother, Daniel, to earn a silver medal in mixed doubles.
On Thursday, Hangstefer’s efforts were rewarded. The Signal Mountain, Tenn., native was named the USA Deaf Sports Federation Sportswoman of the Year for 2013, becoming the first tennis player ever to receive the award.
“Emily worked so hard and prepared extremely well to get ready for the Deaflympics,” said brother and mixed doubles partner Daniel, “and it paid off.”
In women’s doubles, the unseeded Hangstefer and Chapman knocked off the top three seeds en route to the title. And in singles, Hangstefer stretched the No. 2 seed to three sets, falling, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5, in the longest women’s singles match in Deaflympics history.
“Playing with Emily was quite an honor,” said Chapman. “Emily has incredible passion for the game of tennis, and that attitude drives her success on the courts.”
Hangstefer did not play in high school but was a nationally ranked junior. She went on to star for the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, where she was named to the conference All-Freshman Team in 2009 and went 42-18 (combined singles and doubles) as a senior in 2011-12.
Hangstefer is now training to play for Team USA at the Maere Cup for Deaf Women, to be held at the Champions Club Tennis Center in Chattanooga, July 14-19, 2014.
Information from the USADSF was used in compiling this report.