by Blake Grimsley, usta.com
TUCSON, Ariz. - For most people, being diagnosed with cancer almost always means having to give up the things you love. Bill Stokes is not most people though.
A year ago, Bill received news that he had esophageal cancer. After going through radiation and chemotherapy and then finally surgery, Bill and his Intermountain teammates made a pact. They promised themselves they would get to Tucson to play in the national championships.
“We set our goal of playing in the national championships as a team,” said Stokes, who also serves as captain of the team. “I knew it was going to be a tough task given what I was overcoming, but my teammates were there to push me and give me motivation.”
One of those teammates who helped Bill when he was going through recovery was the team ‘energy’ player, Dan Gold.
“I told Bill that he couldn’t give in,” said Gold. “We just weren’t going to allow cancer take our friend away. When you’re given a death sentence what else can you do besides cherish everyday? You never know what life is going to throw your way.”
And Bill is very grateful to have such the friends and family to support him.
“Dan was really a great friend during the entire process. Whenever I needed someone to hit with me or just get outside and be active, Dan was always there.
The threat of not being able to play again was something Bill and his teammates never wanted to see. They are now setting their sights on another national championship run in the coming years.
“We’re 1-2 in our play overall, so we’re liking not going to advance,” said Stokes. “But you can definitely count on seeing our team here again in the future.”
“Even though we probably aren’t going to win the championship, we’re just thrilled to be out here in the fresh air being active,” added Gold. “Tennis is something you can do basically forever.”
Bill’s love of the game prospered at an early age and hasn’t wavered since.
“I started playing tennis when I was seven years old and it has remained one of my great loves. That and flying. I love to fly and play tennis.”
Bill isn’t kidding about the flying part either. He actually flew into the Tucson airport from Salt Lake City on his Cessna 170 airplane.
As you can see, Bill Stokes isn’t most people.