JTCC Para Standing players Nicky Maxwell and Ken ‘Rocket’ Rodriguez had the opportunity of their lifetime when the duo competed in a Para Standing Doubles match in Arthur Ashe Stadium preceding the US Open Women’s Singles Final on September 9.
Selected by the USTA based on their recent high level of play, Maxwell and Rodriguez were accompanied by JTCC Coach Karl Lee, head coach for JTCC’s Para Standing tennis program, and Oliver Akli, JTCC Senior Director of Coaches’ Development.
Maxwell, who’s British, was born with a congenital limb absence below the knee. A JTCC fixture since he attended a Para Standing tennis event sponsored by Hanger Clinic in January, Maxwell made his tournament debut at the Para Standing Italian Open in Turin, Italy, in the spring of 2023.
“It was an incredible experience to play on Ashe and a memory that I will treasure for a long time,” stated Maxwell. “None of this would have been possible without the steady support of JTCC coaches Karl Lee and Gabby Hesse. The center has taken me in and been my biggest supporter while also having the vision to see the potential of Para Standing Tennis long before I did myself.”
Born in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez lost his leg during his service in the Navy. During rehabilitation, he began playing tennis, and in 2022 he discovered JTCC, where he has become a regular participant in JTCC’s weekly Adaptive program.
“Tennis is one of those dreams you never knew you had,” Rodriguez said candidly. “Once I started playing, I started accepting more of my injury and how I look at myself. Tennis has been really helpful with my mental and physical health and pushes me beyond my limits.”
“Maxwell and Rodriguez epitomize effort and perseverance,” commented Coach Lee on the significance of the event. “JTCC will help show the world the potential of the Adaptive Athlete and how tennis can be a pathway of healing for everyone.”
The US Open produced a two-minute video of the exhibition featuring Maxwell and Rodriguez, which will provide a lifetime memory for the dynamic duo. To watch the clip, please click here.
Para Standing Tennis is tailored to individuals with ambulatory disabilities who choose to participate while standing, encompassing those with limb loss or differences and individuals with limited mobility, such as those with multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities.
Under the guidance of Coach Lee and Head of Wheelchair & Adaptive Tennis Gabby Hesse, who was unable to attend the event due to illness, JTCC boasts one of the strongest Para Standing tennis programs in the nation.