Five wheelchair tennis athletes awarded scholarships

Ron Cioffi | October 20, 2022

The USTA Southern Wheelchair Tennis Committee has awarded $1,500 each to the following five collegiate wheelchair tennis athletes:


Toni Nelson; Tallassee, Ala.

University of Alabama; Major: Criminal Justice

“Tennis has had a big impact on my life in a numerous amount of ways. Although I have not played wheelchair tennis for a very long time it has helped in my college experience at The University of Alabama. When I got to the university, I had a very hard time getting to know people and making friends in general, but because of tennis I have been able to get a close friendship with a good group of people that I can have fun with.”

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Gabriel Puthoff; Loveland, Ohio

Auburn University; Major: Secondary Education

“Tennis has given me opportunities that I could not imagine a year ago today. I came to Auburn University to play wheelchair basketball and to earn my degree…Tennis has given me a different avenue to go down to be able to meet different people and travel the United States. I never imagined that tennis could bring me to different places, and I never thought I could have a future in tennis until now.”


Fisher Rizk; Arab, Ala.

Auburn University; Major: Engineering Management

“Although I am relatively new to the sport of wheelchair tennis, it has greatly impacted my life in the short time I've been playing it. The wheelchair tennis community has proven to be a kind, accepting group of athletes who strive to pursue athletic excellence despite physical limitations. I am grateful to consider myself a member of this community and look forward to meeting lots more friends and competitors. The relationships and connections I have made with these athletes over the past year have been very rewarding, and I have USTA wheelchair tennis to thank for that.”


Sarah Sligh; Fairhope, Ala.

Auburn University; Major: Chemical Engineering

“In 2021, I was still pushing to improve and compete (in swimming), and I participated in a wheelchair tennis clinic. I saw it as a fun time-filler, and the hour-long clinic was cut short because of storming, but I discovered I loved tennis, and an opportunity opened up for me to continue to play tennis at school. A year later, I'm balancing a national championship and studying chemical engineering at Auburn University, where I'm planning to continue playing tennis to keep in shape and to participate in undergraduate research with my professors to make advancements in cancer treatments and carbon-neutral, environment-friendly fuels.”


Mckenna Woodhead; York, S.C.

Clemson University; Major: Recreational Therapy

“Going into freshman year, I was unsure of my career path and chose the major of marketing as I did not know what major would fit best. In meeting the staff and community involved with wheelchair tennis, I became familiar with many Recreational Therapists. Over winter break, I then changed my major to Recreational Therapy. In choosing this career path, I get to be involved with adaptive sports such as wheelchair tennis for my occupation. My future excites me soulfully as I will be able to teach and be a part of the adaptive sports community for the rest of my life.”




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