HiveFIVE: Michelle Zhang
Zhang to represent Colorado at Special Olympics USA Games
Students across Colorado are finishing up the school year and sharing their summer plans with each other. One of those students, Michelle Zhang, has an exciting summer ahead which starts with her representing Colorado at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. Michelle will play both singles and doubles at the event which starts June 5 in Orlando. “USTA has 100 tennis courts in Orlando National Campus, and I am very excited to represent Colorado competing there. I look forward to meeting with players from other states,” says Michelle. “It’s actually a great honor to be competing,” said Michelle.
Michelle, a 16-year-old sophomore at Monarch High School in Louisville, first started playing tennis about five years ago at her local recreation center. She participated in summer tennis camps and joined the Special Olympics TN Racqueteers Team in Longmont in 2019. Michelle’s dedication to tennis led to rapid improvement and she caught the eye of quite a few coaches.
Gonzo Garcia, owner of Gonzo Tennis, was one of those coaches. “I was introduced to Michelle and her family, and I started working with her last year,” says Gonzo. “She is an amazing kid and it’s been great to be able to help her improve her game.”
The team at Gonzo Tennis was so impressed with Michelle’s dedication that they held a fundraiser this past February at the Longmont Athletic Club to help offset costs for equipment, training, and travel for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. Gonzo says “Michelle gets so excited on the court. She is very eager to learn and responds really well to coaching and instruction, so we wanted to help make this experience as special as possible for Michelle.”
Another one of Michelle’s coaches, Craig Marshall at ACEing Tennis at Parker Racquet Club, also is supporting her with Drop and Drill events on May 27 and May 28, with all fees benefitting Michelle’s journey to the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.
Michelle’s drive to improve has certainly been rewarded as she recently jumped from a Level 3 evaluation to a Level 5. Michelle says this jump in level makes her “feel really good” because she “likes to play the full court at Level 5” and it has allowed her to play with her doubles partner, who had previously been evaluated at Level 5. Lingling Liu, Michelle’s mom, says “I am very proud that she made this jump in such a short period of time. Michelle has more chances to win at Level 3, but she took on this challenge and has put a lot of effort into it.”
For those that know Michelle, they would not be surprised at such effort and dedication. This spring, she has juggled school with tennis practice every weekday along with club volleyball practice three times a week. She is also a member of the National Honor Society and is in the midst of completing volunteer hours for that. Michelle is also an avid skier, having won gold medals in slalom at the regional Special Olympics in both 2017 and 2018. In addition, Michelle was named the Special Olympics Colorado Athlete of the Month for March 2022!
Michelle is very thankful for all of her coaches from Gonzo Tennis Academy, ACEing Tennis at Parker Racquet Club, Monarch High School and Special Olympics. With their help, tennis has helped Michelle build strength, flexibility, friendships and confidence. She has also developed skills in self- management, self-discipline, resiliency and independence.
All of these traits are sure to serve Michelle well at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. She says “I’m excited to go to Orlando. I’ll be representing our great state to do our best.” And, as many other great athletes have stated, Michelle says “I’m going to Disneyworld!” Originally from Florida, Michelle did visit Disneyworld when she was 7 but is looking forward to a return visit after competing at the Games.
We’ll make sure to post a follow up on Michelle’s adventures in Florida. Good luck, Michelle. We know you will represent Colorado well!
MidFirst Bank is one of the largest privately owned banks and this combination of size and private ownership provides our customers with a special brand of banking. We are a strong supporter of the communities we serve, investing time and money in important educational, charitable and civic organizations. Our volunteerism is powered by our employees from all of the communities in which we live and share with our customers. MidFirst Bank is a proud partner of USTA Colorado.
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