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USTA/Midwest Section Junior Player to Compete in Wheelchair Tennis’ Premier International Team Competition

May 16, 2013 08:09 AM

 Krystal Kelley, a 17 year old from Grand Haven, Mich., has been selected to represent the United States at the 2013 BNP Paribas World Team Cup. Kelley is one of three players on the Junior Team and she and her teammates will join the nation’s other top wheelchair tennis players to compete against teams from more than 50 countries next week, May 20-26, on the clay courts of Club Ali Bey Manavgat on the Turkish Riviera in Antalya, Turkey.

Recalling the minute when she was first notified about being selected for the team, Kelley said "I was really excited!" Junior Coach Paul Walker called her on a rainy day and asked her "You know what the weather is like in Turkey during the summer? Well, it’s really warm and that’s good because you get to go!"
Kelley’s journey to Turkey began four years ago when she first started playing wheelchair tennis. After trying to play on crutches, which she admits was difficult, her Dad found a wheelchair program in Grand Rapids, Mich., which to her "looked really fun". She then started playing with junior-level players and within a year and half was playing with adults from Mary Free Bed Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports Tennis program.
"Wheelchair tennis is easier because you can be much more mobile than when using crutches; you can move easier and are actually able to play well and compete." She added that she enjoys wheelchair tennis because "they are my community, like a family" in how they support each other.
Wheelchair tennis has given Kelley the opportunity to stay active and excel in a sport she loves. Born with brittle bone disease, Kelley has to be careful in all activities, breaking her legs several times over the years, but she says tennis is something she loves because it challenges her both physically and mentally.
"I really like how tennis is both a physical and mental game," she said. "You have to keep your head in the game and stay focused and I like the challenge of that." She also enjoys the different options tennis provides. "I like how you can be on a team, but you can also play as an individual. You can work together with a partner and have someone to talk to and strategize with, or you can play singles and make your own decisions while on the court," Kelley said.
Kelley was selected for the team based on her record, but she first learned of the cup event several years ago while attending the USTA-IFF Junior Wheelchair Tennis Camp. Coaches, managers and players who had participated before talked about it and after that she was motivated to make the team. Now that she is on the team, she’s looking forward to the entire experience.
"I’m excited to get to travel, to meet other players from around the world and hopefully learn more about other cultures," Kelley said. "I’m also looking forward to getting to know the players from the U.S. team and I can’t wait to have the experience of representing my country".
About the BNP Paribas World Team Cup
The World Team Cup is the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis event, often referred to as the Davis Cup and Fed Cup of wheelchair tennis. This year’s event will be hosted by the Turkish Sports Federation for the Disabled (TSFD) in Antalya, Turkey. The inaugural event took place in California in 1985 and included six men’s teams. Women’s competition began the following year, with quad and junior events introduced in 1998 and 2000.