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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

March 04, 2015 08:09 GMT

SPRING TRAINING

Tuesday's Games

Philadelphia 5, N.Y. Yankees 5, tie

Detroit 15, Baltimore 2

Pittsburgh 8, Toronto 7

Oakland 9, San Francisco 4

Cincinnati 10, Cleveland 0

Wednesday's Games

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

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

Detroit vs. Baltimore at Sarasota, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

N.Y. Mets vs. Atlanta at Kissimmee, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Cincinnati vs. Cleveland at Goodyear, Ariz., 3:05 p.m.

San Diego vs. Seattle at Peoria, Ariz., 3:05 p.m.

Oakland vs. San Francisco at Scottsdale, Ariz., 3:05 p.m.

Kansas City vs. Texas at Surprise, Ariz., 3:05 p.m.

Chicago White Sox vs. L.A. Dodgers at Glendale, Ariz., 3:05 p.m.

Arizona vs. Colorado at Scottsdale, Ariz., 3:10 p.m.

NBA

Tuesday's Games

Charlotte 104, L.A. Lakers 103

Cleveland 110, Boston 79

Sacramento 124, New York 86

Atlanta 104, Houston 96

Chicago 97, Washington 92

Utah 93, Memphis 82

Denver 106, Milwaukee 95

Wednesday's Games

Phoenix at Orlando, 7 p.m.

New York at Indiana, 7 p.m.

Cleveland at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

Utah at Boston, 7:30 p.m.

Charlotte at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.

Detroit at New Orleans, 8 p.m.

Philadelphia at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m.

Memphis at Houston, 8 p.m.

Denver at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

L.A. Lakers at Miami, 8 p.m.

Sacramento at San Antonio, 8:30 p.m.

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

Portland at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 p.m.

NHL

Tuesday's Games

Minnesota 3, Ottawa 2, SO

New Jersey 3, Nashville 1

Calgary 3, Philadelphia 2, OT

Washington 5, Columbus 3

Tampa Bay 3, Buffalo 0

Toronto 3, Florida 2

Dallas 3, N.Y. Islanders 2, OT

Anaheim 4, Arizona 1

Los Angeles 5, Edmonton 2

San Jose 6, Vancouver 2

Wednesday's Games

Ottawa at Winnipeg, 7:30 p.m.

N.Y. Rangers at Detroit, 8 p.m.

Pittsburgh at Colorado, 10 p.m.

Montreal at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

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KEYE-TV Sports Team


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