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

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 10:47 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

December 22, 2014 08:06 GMT

NFL

Thursday's Game

Jacksonville 21, Tennessee 13

Saturday's Games

Washington 27, Philadelphia 24

San Diego 38, San Francisco 35, OT

Sunday's Games

Houston 25, Baltimore 13

Detroit 20, Chicago 14

Atlanta 30, New Orleans 14

Miami 37, Minnesota 35

Carolina 17, Cleveland 13

Green Bay 20, Tampa Bay 3

Pittsburgh 20, Kansas City 12

New England 17, N.Y. Jets 16

N.Y. Giants 37, St. Louis 27

Oakland 26, Buffalo 24

Dallas 42, Indianapolis 7

Seattle 35, Arizona 6

Monday's Game

Denver at Cincinnati, 8:30 p.m.

NBA

Sunday's Games

Toronto 118, New York 108

Cleveland 105, Memphis 91

Sacramento 108, L.A. Lakers 101

Phoenix 104, Washington 92

Miami 100, Boston 84

Philadelphia 96, Orlando 88

Brooklyn 110, Detroit 105

New Orleans 101, Oklahoma City 99

Indiana 100, Minnesota 96

Monday's Games

Denver at Charlotte, 7 p.m.

Toronto at Chicago, 8 p.m.

Portland at Houston, 8 p.m.

Utah at Memphis, 8 p.m.

Atlanta at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

L.A. Clippers at San Antonio, 8:30 p.m.

Sacramento at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.

NHL

Sunday's Games

Colorado 2, Detroit 1, SO

Dallas 6, Edmonton 5, SO

Boston 4, Buffalo 3, OT

N.Y. Rangers 1, Carolina 0

Chicago 4, Toronto 0

Philadelphia 4, Winnipeg 3, OT

Monday's Games

Ottawa at Washington, 7 p.m.

Nashville at Columbus, 7 p.m.

Pittsburgh at Florida, 7:30 p.m.

Arizona at Vancouver, 10 p.m.

San Jose at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

Calgary at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.

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KEYE-TV Sports Team


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