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Maylee Phelps named 2023 ITF Wheelchair Tennis Junior of the Year

Victoria Chiesa | December 06, 2023


American Maylee Phelps closed out a breakthrough 2023 season with the International Tennis Federation's top prize for junior wheelchair tennis players. She's been named the female Wheelchair Tennis Junior of the Year.

 

First presented in 2020, the award, given to a junior boy and girl, recognizes young wheelchair tennis players for both on-court results and off-court displays of leadership and sportsmanship. Phelps joins Angelina 'Gaila' Fosbinder, who won the girls' award in 2021, as Americans to be chosen overall.

 

The world No. 1 in the girls' rankings for much of 2023, Phelps also improved her standing in the women's rankings by more than half; she started the year ranked outside the Top 70, and currently sits at No. 36, one spot off her career-high of No. 35, and second in the U.S. to Top 10 player Dana Mathewson.

 

The Portland, Ore. native, who turned 17 earlier this week, called winning the award "an honor." 

 

"I did my best to step up my dedication, on and off the court, this past year," she told the ITF website. "So, this reward means a lot to me. I’m grateful for how wheelchair tennis has provided me with so many opportunities and the chance to see the world and meet so many wonderful people.”

Phelps' on-court achievements in the junior ranks this year included winning the prestigious Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters in both singles and doubles in January, as well as capturing the junior doubles title at the US Open for the second year in a row (and in the event's second-ever staging). She was also runner-up to France's Ksenia Chasteau in the singles final in New York, and partered her for the doubles crown. She was named the US Open Junior Sportsmanship Award winner for the girls' wheelchair event.

 

Phelps first rose to world No. 1 junior status on Jan. 2, and is currently ranked No. 2.

 

On the pro side, she also recorded several milestones in 2023, including her first selection to both the women's U.S. World Team Cup team and the U.S. Parapan American team. She returned home from the latter with a gold medal, as she and Mathewson ran the table in Santiago in doubles, and won a three-set thriller in the final to top the podium.

Photo by Dustin Satloff/USTA.

Between junior and professional events, Phelps won a combined 11 titles this year—seven in singles and four in doubles. The ITF's wheelchair tennis committee, which selects the award-winners, also lauded her off-court commitments to the wheelchair program at St. Johns Athletic Club and her volunteer work at Shriner’s Hospital of Oregon, where she helps introduce children with disabilities to wheelchair tennis.

 

The boys' award was given to Italy's Francesco Felici, the US Open boys' singles runner-up, 

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