2018 Year in Review:
Soldan Trains with PD
Erin Maher | December 6, 2018
Love-15: As 2018 draws to a close, USTA.com is taking a look back at the top 15 storylines, headlines and highlights from the year in American tennis. Here, we look back on the historic milestone of wheelchair tennis player and Paralympian Mackenzie Soldan, who this year became the first wheelchair tennis player to train full-time with USTA Player Development at the USTA National Campus.
At 25 years old, Mackenzie Soldan has amassed quite the resume. Two Paralympics, a national title and a gold medal are just some of this young athlete's amazing feats.
Besides her accolades, Soldan is also making history. In April 2018, the Paralympian packed her bags and headed to the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., to train full-time with USTA Player Development, making her the first elite wheelchair tennis athlete to train at the campus, alongside the able-bodied pros.ADVERTISEMENT
“It’s very humbling to finally be in the place where we can train alongside the up-and-coming pros and pros on the professional tour here at the campus,” said Soldan. “It’s a dream for us in the wheelchair tennis community because we’re always striving for people to recognize us as athletes. For me, personally, it’s just incredible to have this experience to train in a place like this but to also know I can help give other people more opportunities in the U.S. to become part of the elite athletes. I’m just going to enjoy every day that I’m here.”
Besides the grind of training on the court, going to the gym and the mental preparation involved with being a professional athlete, Soldan is a member of Team USA and, alongside other top American wheelchair tennis athletes, represents the United States at World Team Cup, the wheelchair tennis equivalent of Davis Cup and Fed Cup.
When she’s not busy training or playing for her country, Soldan is doing something equally, if not more, important: giving back to the game that has given her so much. This past July, Soldan served as a coach at the USTA/ITF Junior Camp of the Americas, an immersive wheelchair tennis camp for junior players. She can also be found on campus helping out at wheelchair clinics.
"As a rare two-sport Paralympian and former student-athlete at the University of Alabama, Mackenzie's pedigree as an athlete with an incredibly strong resume commanded respect coming through the doors here at the USTA National Campus," said Team USA Head Wheelchair Tennis Coach Jason Harnett. "But more importantly, her character and incredible work ethic made the decision to invite her here an easy one. She represents a minority within a sport and in society, and she embodies every aspect of what it is to be an athlete training here within the Player Development parameters. We are excited to see what sort of journey she takes us on."
For more American tennis highlights from 2018, be sure to check out our Year in Review page here.