2022 Community Champions: Nick Taylor honored with Brad Parks Award
On March 20, six advocates for the sport of tennis at the grassroots and local levels were honored as Community Champions at the 2022 USTA Annual Meeting and Conference. The “Celebration of Community Champions” luncheon was held at the Disney Beach and Yacht Club in Orlando, Fla.
WATCH: Nick Taylor wins the 2022 Brad Parks Award
Three-time Paralympic doubles gold medalist and Grand Slam champion Nick Taylor was presented with the USTA's annual Brad Parks Award at the 2022 USTA Annual Meeting and Conference for his outstanding contribution in helping grow wheelchair tennis at the local levels.
Taylor, a former world No. 1 in both quad singles and doubles, had a competitive career that spanned three decades before he retired from international competition at the end of 2021. A five-time Paralympic medalist, he won three consecutive Paralympic gold medals with David Wagner (2004, 2008 and 2012) and a silver in Rio (2016) as well as a singles bronze medal in London (2012) over four Paralympic Games. Taylor and Wagner also won 11 Grand Slam titles together, with four coming at the Australian Open and seven at the US Open. The two men were also cornerstones of the majority of the record nine quad titles won by Team USA at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup.
In total, Taylor won 120 doubles titles, the majority of those with Wagner as his partner. Taylor and Wagner won 11 UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters titles and played their last tournament together in November at the UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters event in Orlando, Fla. at the USTA National Campus. Taylor ended his career with a total of 813 combined wins in singles (383) and doubles (430).
As a competitor, Taylor will always be remembered for his unusual serve, a literal ‘kick’ serve perfected over years of playing, in which he tossed the ball up using his foot while having his racquet chained to his hand.
Taylor’s competitive resume in tennis is rivaled only by his off-court involvement.
A double alumnus of Wichita State University, earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree there, Taylor has been involved with the school’s varsity men’s tennis team for more than 15 years—first as an intern, later as a volunteer assistant coach, and now as its director of operations. He is also currently the tournament director at the $25,000 ITF World Tennis Tour event held in Wichita, which will host a men’s and women’s tournament in consecutive weeks this year. He has taught “almost everything” in the school’s undergraduate sports management department and currently teaches at the graduate level. Taylor has been a mentor to young wheelchair players, including Casey Ratzlaff, a fellow Wichita native who picked up tennis at age 12 at a tennis camp hosted by Wichita Adaptive Sports—a nonprofit co-founded by Taylor—and qualified for his first Paralympic Games at age 23.
Taylor is also a member of the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) wheelchair players’ council, where he’s successfully lobbied for the inclusion of quad events at the French Open and Wimbledon in recent years, and the expansion of the discipline at majors to eight players. He is on the USTA’s national wheelchair tennis committee, where he currently chairs the tournament and rules subcommittee, and is a member of the Missouri Valley section’s diversity and inclusion and Hall of Fame committees.
“Nick Taylor is one of the greatest wheelchair players in history and continues to make a huge impact on wheelchair tennis,” said Craig Morris, USTA Chief Executive, Community Tennis. “He has been an inspirational leader in the community of Wichita helping grow the sport, and we are thrilled to be able to recognize his great work with the Brad Parks Award.”
The Brad Parks Award was established in 2002 to recognize outstanding contributions to the sport of wheelchair tennis. Named after San Clemente, Calif., resident Brad Parks, a pioneer of wheelchair tennis and the first wheelchair tournament champion, the award is presented annually and honors an individual or organization that has been instrumental in the development of wheelchair tennis around the world through playing, coaching, sponsoring and promoting the game.