Wheelchair tennis champion of the year: Randy Ortwein
Ever since tennis pro Randy Ortwein of Magnolia, Texas, met fellow Texan and wheelchair tennis pioneer Randy Snow, who passed away in 2009, he has devoted much of his free time to the sport of wheelchair tennis, says Dan James, the USTA’s national manager for Wheelchair Tennis, including helping to develop several strategies to track the sport.
Ortwein’s motivation comes from his admiration of wheelchair athletes. “All you have to do is spend one hour with these athletes, and my inspiration becomes crystal clear,” he says. “They overcome many obstacles just getting to the courts to play tennis — obstacles that most of us will never truly understand.”
For wheelchair tennis in Texas, Ortwein not only has helped develop and support local programs, but he was instrumental in securing 12 sport wheelchairs, clearing away a large obstacle for many who want to start playing wheelchair tennis while also increasing the awareness of the sport.
Ortwein has been president of the Houston Tennis Association (HTA), chair of the USTA Texas Wheelchair Tennis Committee, a member and chair of the national USTA Wheelchair Tennis Committee, president of the Houston Wheelchair Tennis Association, and more. In 2012, he was awarded the USTA Texas Section’s W.T. Caswell Service Award, and now, he is Tennis Industry magazine’s 2015 Wheelchair Tennis Champion of the Year.
HTA Executive Director Cheryl Hultquist Horvath says Ortwein makes players feel at ease. “Randy just went up to a young man in a wheelchair and started talking to him about his capabilities, then suggested wheelchair tennis. The guy was very impressed. It was very moving.” — Todd Carlson
Tips for Success
- Learn to “Play It Forward” by giving to others what the game of tennis has given to you.
- Think about other populations that could benefit from playing tennis.
- Growth comes from stepping out of your comfort zone.
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