“Now, I am a lot more relaxed on court because of the experiences in Guadalajara and the London 2012 Paralympics..."
The USA’s Emmy Kaiser returns to the wheelchair tennis court with high expectations for the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games from 7 August, starting as one of the favourites to take gold.
Kaiser was 21 years old at the 2011 edition in Guadalajara, Mexico, and claimed the women’s doubles title alongside Mackenzie Soldan. She could not overcome her doubles partner in the women’s singles finals but hopes her second-go will lead to gold.
"It is a huge honour to be seen as one of the favourites for Toronto 2015,” Kaiser, 25, said.
“I would love to win both singles and doubles. To me, playing my game and playing well, and working on things with my doubles partner for future development are the priorities though. … I am looking forward to the Parapan Am Games. I had a great time in Guadalajara, so I am excited for this time around and to see the rest of Team USA again.”
The women’s singles final in Guadalajara 2011 saw Kaiser lose her first set advantage over Soldan, who came back to win 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. However, like so many tournaments, Kaiser ended up playing with her compatriot and winning the doubles title.
That experience four years ago was just the first step in Kaiser’s development.
“Guadalajara was a huge learning experience for me,” Kaiser said. “It was the first time I really played in that big of a tournament, especially with that many people watching. I never really experienced all of the media and publicity before.
“Now, I am a lot more relaxed on court because of the experiences in Guadalajara and the London 2012 Paralympics, as well as my classes in sport psychology.”
In Toronto 2015, Kaiser will be paired with Kaitlyn Verfuerth, who took part in the 2007 edition in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. Verfuerth, who missed out on Guadalajara 2011, won both singles and doubles titles in 2007.
With that, Kaiser anticipates meeting her doubles partner in the singles matches.
“It makes it a bit trickier because you have to set aside the friendship and only see them as a competitor for the match,” Kaiser said.
“This year, the same holds true with my doubles partner Kaitlyn. We have to work together for the tournament. But in singles, when we are on opposite sides of the court, she is my opponent just like all the other women.”
Away from the build-up of the Parapan Am Games, Kaiser is looking to get her ranking close to where it was at the end of last season, when she was No. 13 in September. But for the time being, her attention is on gold in Toronto.
“I am focusing on how well I have been playing and trusting myself that I have the ability to win,” she said. “I definitely feed off the atmosphere because it is always such an honour to be a part of Team USA and be seen as an elite athlete. I also really enjoy getting to meet and spend time with other Team USA athletes as well as athletes from other countries in different venues.”
Toronto 2015 will be the fifth edition of the Parapan Am Games, and ticket information can be found at the Toronto 2015 website.