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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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NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Friday's Games

SOUTH REGION: Duke 63, Utah 57

SOUTH REGION: Gonzaga 74, UCLA 62

EAST REGION: Louisville 75, NC State 65

EAST REGION: Michigan State 62, Oklahoma 58

Saturday's Games

WEST REGION FINAL: Wisconsin vs. Arizona at Los Angeles, 6:09 p.m.

MIDWEST REGION FINAL: Kentucky vs. Notre Dame at Cleveland, 8:49 p.m.

NBA

Friday's Games

L.A. Clippers 119, Philadelphia 98

Washington 110, Charlotte 107,2OT

Detroit 111, Orlando 97

Atlanta 99, Miami 86

Toronto 94, L.A. Lakers 83

Brooklyn 106, Cleveland 98

Boston 96, New York 92

New Orleans 102, Sacramento 88

Houston 120, Minnesota 110

Golden State 107, Memphis 84

San Antonio 94, Dallas 76

Denver 107, Utah 91

Portland 87, Phoenix 81

Saturday's Games

Atlanta at Charlotte, 7 p.m.

New York at Chicago, 8 p.m.

Golden State at Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m.

Oklahoma City at Utah, 9 p.m.

Denver at Portland, 10 p.m.

NHL

Friday's Games

Minnesota 4, Calgary 2

Columbus 5, Chicago 2

Edmonton 4, Dallas 0

Saturday's Games

Nashville at Washington, 12:30 p.m.

N.Y. Rangers at Boston, 1 p.m.

Anaheim at N.Y. Islanders, 1 p.m.

San Jose at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

Arizona at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

Tampa Bay at Detroit, 2 p.m.

Ottawa at Toronto, 7 p.m.

Florida at Montreal, 7 p.m.

New Jersey at Carolina, 7 p.m.

Columbus at St. Louis, 8 p.m.

Los Angeles at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

Buffalo at Colorado, 9 p.m.

Dallas at Vancouver, 10 p.m

NCAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Friday's Games

OKLAHOMA CITY REGION: Baylor 81, Iowa 66

OKLAHOMA CITY REGION: Notre Dame 81, Stanford 60

GREENSBORO REGION: South Carolina 67, North Carolina 65

GREENSBORO REGION: Florida State 66, Arizona State 65

Saturday's Games

ALBANY REGION: UConn (34-1) vs. Texas (24-10), Noon

ALBANY REGION: Dayton (27-6) vs. Louisville (27-6), 2:30 p.m.

SPOKANE REGION: Maryland (32-2) vs. Duke (23-10), 4:30 p.m.

SPOKANE REGION: Gonzaga (26-7) vs. Tennessee (29-5), 7 p.m.

MLS

Friday

No games scheduled

Saturday, March 28

San Jose at New England, 3 p.m.

Orlando City at Montreal, 4 p.m.

Los Angeles at D.C. United, 7 p.m.

Sporting Kansas City at New York City FC, 7 p.m.

New York at Columbus, 7:30 p.m.

Portland at Vancouver, 8 p.m.

Seattle at FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Colorado at Houston, 8:30 p.m.

MLB PRESEASON

St. Louis (ss) 5, N.Y. Mets 4

N.Y. Yankees 10, Philadelphia 0, 6 innings

Pittsburgh 4, Minnesota 2, 8 innings

Atlanta 4, Boston 2, 7 innings

Tampa Bay vs. Baltimore at Sarasota, Fla., ccd., Rain

Washington 1, St. Louis (ss) 1, tie

Toronto 4, Detroit 1, 5 innings

Oakland 7, Texas 6

Chicago Cubs 6, Chicago White Sox 3

Arizona (ss) 3, Cleveland 2

Arizona (ss) 7, L.A. Angels 2

Miami vs. Houston at Kissimmee, Fla., ccd., Rain

Kansas City 5, Seattle 1

San Diego 7, Colorado 5

Milwaukee 8, Cincinnati 6

San Francisco 8, L.A. Dodgers 4

Saturday's Games

Philadelphia vs. Minnesota at Fort Myers, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Houston vs. Miami at Jupiter, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

St. Louis vs. Detroit at Lakeland, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Baltimore vs. N.Y. Yankees at Tampa, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Boston vs. Tampa Bay at Port Charlotte, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Toronto (ss) vs. Pittsburgh at Bradenton, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Atlanta vs. Toronto (ss) at Dunedin, Fla., 1:07 p.m.

Washington vs. N.Y. Mets at Port St. Lucie, Fla., 1:10 p.m.

Colorado vs. Chicago Cubs (ss) at Mesa, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Cleveland vs. Milwaukee at Phoenix, 4:05 p.m.

Oakland vs. Chicago White Sox at Glendale, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

San Francisco vs. Seattle at Peoria, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Chicago Cubs (ss) vs. Cincinnati at Goodyear, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

San Diego vs. Texas at Surprise, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

L.A. Dodgers vs. L.A. Angels at Tempe, Ariz., 4:10 p.m.

Kansas City vs. Arizona at Scottsdale, Ariz., 4:10 p.m.

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