Draney named recipient of
2017 Brad Parks Award
Erin Maher | January 24, 2018
American wheelchair tennis legend and quad division founding father Rick Draney was recently named the recipient of the ITF’s Brad Parks Award for 2017.
Each year, the honor is given to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to wheelchair tennis on an international scale.
In 1981, at just 19 years old, California native Draney was in a car accident that broke his neck, leaving him as an incomplete quadriplegic. Three years later, Draney picked up a racquet for the first time and started to compete in the Men’s E division, which would later be known as the quad division.
Draney went on to become a highly decorated athlete, reaching the No. 1 world ranking in quad singles and doubles and becoming one of the most successful quad players in the history of wheelchair tennis. ADVERTISEMENT
No matter how great his success was on court, Draney was determined to give back to the sport that gave him so much, volunteering his time by holding wheelchair tennis clinics both domestically and internationally. He often led clinics at the Stoke Mandeville Games, spreading awareness and interest in the game and serving as a catalyst for international growth.
By 1998, the quad division had been officially established, and the official quad world rankings soon followed. That same year, the quad event was introduced at the World Team Cup for the first time. Draney was on the inaugural team, winning the title both in 1998 and again in 2003.
Through his work on and off the court, Draney was a pioneer, paving the way for future quad wheelchair players to partake in the game, helping wheelchair tennis become recognized by both Grand Slams and the Paralympics.
"What a tremendous honor for a man who has given so much back to the sport of wheelchair tennis,” said Joanne Wallen, Director of Adult Individual Play and Wheelchair for the USTA. “Rick was one of the original pioneers of the sport and of the quad division in particular, back in the 1980s. We could not be more excited to have one of our National Wheelchair Committee members honored for such a cherished award.