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Fran-Tastic: Austin is Home to One of World's Best Wheelchair Tennis Players

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT

Plenty of players hold court at Grey Rock Tennis Club. However, few hold a candle to Francisca Mardones.

"It's almost impossible to describe how amazing it is," said former United States Davis Cup Captain, Dennis Rolston.

Francisca enjoys tennis because it's an individual sport. Therefore, a match is as much about you as it is about your opponent.

"You compete against your mind and your body," said Mardones.

And if anyone knows the power of mind and body, it's Fran.

"She's got a strong body, strong heart," said Fernando Velasco, owner/general manager of Grey Rock Tennis Center.

In 1999, while working as a hotel manager in the Caribbean, Mardones was caught outside during Hurricane Lenny. As the category 4 storm barreled down, Fran was thrown over a cliff. The accident broke her back and caused her to spend a year in the hospital. After undergoing more than 20 surgeries, Mardones' legs no longer functioned - but she held the future in her hands.

"I couldn't move," recalled Fran. "I couldn't talk. I couldn't do anything. I said, 'your life will change only if you want it to."

As she was rehabbing and adjusting to her new life, Francisca was introduced to wheelchair tennis. She had never picked up a racket before. That was only seven years ago.

"Tennis gave me a lot of things in my life," admitted Mardones.

When it comes to rules, the only difference between wheelchair tennis and able bodied tennis is that Francisca and her competitors can allow the ball to bounce twice, rather than just once. But we very quickly learned Fran doesn't usually even need that second bounce.

She trains with Velasco and Ralston, a former Wimbledon doubles champion at Grey Rock - a facility she found while visiting a friend last year.

"We don't ask, we just say, 'Lord, thank you," said Velasco.

After competing for her native country in the London Paralympic games, Fran decided to move from Chile to Austin in January to train full time. She's currently number 16 in the world rankings.

"If I could go back 13 years ago, when I had my accident -  I would not change anything," said Mardones.

Life may have served up an unforced error, but like a true tennis pro, Fran rallied - and even put her own spin on the return.

By Adam WinklerFran-Tastic: Austin is Home to One of World's Best Wheelchair Tennis Players


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Scores & Schedules

September 19, 2014 07:07 GMT

INTERLEAGUE

Pittsburgh 3 Boston 2

AMERICAN LEAGUE Thursday's Games

Texas 7, Oakland 2

N.Y. Yankees 3, Toronto 2

Cleveland 2, Houston 1, 13 innings

Seattle 3, L.A. Angels 1

Friday's Games

Boston (Webster 4-3) at Baltimore (Gausman 7-7), 7:05 p.m.

Toronto (Buehrle 12-9) at N.Y. Yankees (Kuroda 10-9), 7:05 p.m.

Chicago White Sox (Quintana 8-10) at Tampa Bay (Hellickson 1-3), 7:10 p.m.

Cleveland (Bauer 5-8) at Minnesota (P.Hughes 15-10), 8:10 p.m.

Detroit (Verlander 13-12) at Kansas City (J.Vargas 11-9), 8:10 p.m.

Seattle (T.Walker 1-2) at Houston (Peacock 4-8), 8:10 p.m.

Texas (Bonilla 1-0) at L.A. Angels (H.Santiago 5-8), 10:05 p.m.

NATIONAL LEAGUE Thursday's Games

Washington 6, Miami 2

L.A. Dodgers 8, Chicago Cubs 4

St. Louis 3, Milwaukee 2, 13 innings

Colorado 7, Arizona 6

San Diego 7, Philadelphia 3

Friday's Games

L.A. Dodgers (Kershaw 19-3) at Chicago Cubs (E.Jackson 6-14), 2:20 p.m.

Milwaukee (Gallardo 8-10) at Pittsburgh (Locke 7-5), 7:05 p.m.

Washington (Fister 14-6) at Miami (Koehler 9-9), 7:10 p.m.

N.Y. Mets (Za.Wheeler 10-10) at Atlanta (Teheran 13-12), 7:35 p.m.

Arizona (C.Anderson 9-6) at Colorado (Lyles 6-3), 8:10 p.m.

Cincinnati (Holmberg 1-1) at St. Louis (Lackey 2-2), 8:15 p.m.

San Francisco (T.Hudson 9-11) at San Diego (Despaigne 3-7), 10:10 p.m.

INTERLEAGUE

Philadelphia (D.Buchanan 6-7) at Oakland (Lester 15-10), 9:35 p.m.

NFL

Thursday's Game

Atlanta 56, Tampa Bay 14

Sunday's Games

Dallas at St. Louis, 1 p.m.

Minnesota at New Orleans, 1 p.m.

San Diego at Buffalo, 1 p.m.

Washington at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

Houston at N.Y. Giants, 1 p.m.

Tennessee at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Baltimore at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Green Bay at Detroit, 1 p.m.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

Oakland at New England, 1 p.m.

San Francisco at Arizona, 4:05 p.m.

Denver at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

Kansas City at Miami, 4:25 p.m.

Pittsburgh at Carolina, 8:30 p.m.

Monday's Game

Chicago at N.Y. Jets, 8:30 p.m.

TOP-25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL

( 5) Auburn 20 (20) Kansas State 14

Saturday

No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 22 Clemson, 8 p.m.

No. 2 Oregon at Washington State, 10:30 p.m.

No. 3 Alabama vs. Florida, 3:30 p.m.

No. 4 Oklahoma at West Virginia, 7:30 p.m.

No. 6 Texas A&M at SMU, 3:30 p.m.

No. 8 LSU vs. Mississippi State, 7 p.m.

No. 11 Michigan State vs. Eastern Michigan, Noon

No. 13 Georgia vs. Troy, Noon

No. 14 South Carolina at Vanderbilt, 7:30 p.m.

No. 18 Missouri vs. Indiana, 4 p.m.

No. 19 Wisconsin vs. Bowling Green, Noon

No. 21 BYU vs. Virginia, 3:30 p.m.

No. 24 Nebraska vs. Miami, 8 p.m.

Longhorn Football Scoreboard

Longhorn Football News

 

KEYE-TV Sports Team


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