Adaptive Tennis Spotlight:
November 6, 2019
“My future was uncertain. My parents didn’t know what I would be capable of as I grew older. The truth is that nobody really knows what they are capable of.”
At just two years old, Danny Scrivano had a stroke which would leave him completely paralyzed on the right side of his body. It was true that Danny’s family did not know what to expect for their son’s life, but as he has grown up and defied the odds time and again, one thing became crystal clear: there would be an exciting journey ahead.
Patti Scrivano, Danny’s mother, describes her family as an athletic one. It makes sense, as her husband and Danny’s father, Mike, seemed to have played every sport under the sun and later passed his passion for sports onto his three sons. Danny was no different than his two brothers when it came to his love of competition. ADVERTISEMENT Anything his brothers could do, Danny wanted to do also.
So, from an early age, Danny pushed his limits by trying sport after sport, everything from basketball to tackle football. Although Danny played tennis for fun with his dad and brothers and in local summer camps for several years while growing up, it was not until he was a freshman in high school that he decided to play competitively. Danny started to realize that football was becoming too demanding on him, and tennis made more sense. What he did not realize was how quickly he would fall in love with sport.
“It’s such a great sport, and it’s great to stay active and continue to be in sports,” said Danny.
Danny made the switch to tennis, which he believes was one of the best decisions he has ever made in his life. He became the first of the Scrivano boys to play tennis competitively, kindling a fire within him to give tennis everything he had.
Playing one-handed is second nature to Danny, as it is all he has ever known. He quickly perfected the art of the one-armed serve and is dangerous at the net. He earned the respect of his teammates, coaches and competitors. When people underestimate him, it just fuels him.
The Michigan native climbed the ranks on his high school team, playing for one year on the junior varsity team and then the next three on varsity. Though Danny was the only athlete on the high school circuit who was playing with a disability, never once did he let his sense of competition falter.
Danny and Patti both remember one particular memory that will forever be their favorite. As a sophomore, Danny’s high school team played their way to the state finals. In one match, Danny and his doubles partner were down a set and down in the second 1-5. During a changeover, he noticed that the opposing coach was obviously telling his players to target Danny as the “weaker” player. Big mistake, Danny said.
He and his partner came back to win the match, something he will never forget.
“It was really satisfying watching him succeed because tennis is a sport that can be played by everyone, so he was able to compete against athletes without disabilities,” said Patti Scrivano. Danny went on to earn County First Team honors as a junior and County Dream Team honors as a senior.
Now, at 22, Danny has found a way to channel all of the lessons learned through tennis and other sports into his everyday life. Between coaching tennis at his high school to working at the local hospital, Danny is adamant that his time on court taught him the importance of character and perseverance.
In addition to his everyday responsibilities, Danny also serves as a motivational speaker. In sharing his journey, he hopes to motivate the next generation of adaptive athletes. One of the best things for Danny is the outpour of support he receives from families with children like him. Often, families will send him messages thanking him for changing their outlook on what their own children are capable of doing.
“What people don’t realize about people like me is we are capable of a lot” said Danny. “I think we have a different outlook on life; I treat my disability as motivation to work harder, train harder and to compete at the highest level.”
Danny is currently ranked No. 5 in the world for Standing Adaptive Tennis in his category. He would love to see the Standing Adaptive modality added to the Tennis Grand Slam Tournaments and the Paralympics. Danny is thankful for all of the support from the USTA. He hopes that one day, this dream will become a reality.
For Danny and his family, there have been a lot of uncertainties throughout life, but there has always been one constant: Danny’s positive outlook on life and the will to persist.