The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) announced the four athletes who will represent the USA in Wheelchair Tennis at next month’s Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, from 12-20 November.
Four-time Paralympic Games medallist Steve Welch and 2007 Parapan American Games gold medallist Jon Rydberg will play on the men’s team, as Emmy Kaiser will join 2007 Parapan American Games gold medallist Kaitlyn Verfuerth on the women’s team.
The players will compete in men’s and women’s singles and doubles, and will be coached by Dan James and Jason Harnett.
Welch, 39, of Arlington, Texas, competed in his fourth Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and holds four career Paralympic medals, including a doubles gold from the 1996 Games in Atlanta. Since 1992, Welch has won more than 100 major titles, and first held the world No. 1 ranking in 1995. He has played competitive Wheelchair Basketball in addition to Wheelchair Tennis, and was part of five national championship teams in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
Rydberg, 34, of St. Paul, Minnesota, peaked at No. 11 in the world in 2007 and competed in the 2004 and 2008 Paralympics. He also captured the singles gold medal at the 2007 Parapan Am Games and the doubles silver medal that year with Lee Hinson. In addition to being a successful Wheelchair Tennis player, he is an accomplished Wheelchair Basketball player, earning a scholarship to play at the University of Texas-Arlington, where he helped lead the school to a national championship in 1997.
Kaiser, 21, of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, is the top-ranked American women’s wheelchair player. Born with spina bifida, Kasier has been competing on the wheelchair tour since 2006. She competed in the 2009 and 2011 US Open as a wild card and has had a strong presence in the World Team Cup, representing the USA from 2009 to 2011, where the team finished fifth in her debut.
Verfuerth, 25, of Port Washington, Wisconsin, is ranked No. 32 in the world and cracked the top 10 in 2009. She competed in the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games and won the gold in both singles and doubles at the 2007 Parapan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro.