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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

October 30, 2014 07:08 GMT

WORLD SERIES=

(Best-of-7) San Francisco 4, Kansas City 3

Tuesday, Oct. 21: San Francisco 7, Kansas City 1

Wednesday, Oct. 22: Kansas City 7, San Francisco 2

Friday, Oct. 24: Kansas City 3, San Francisco 2

Saturday, Oct. 25: San Francisco 11, Kansas City 4

Sunday, Oct. 26: San Francisco 5, Kansas City 0

Tuesday, Oct. 28: Kansas City 10, San Francisco 0

Wednesday, Oct. 29: San Francisco 3, Kansas City 2

NBA

Wednesday's Games

Indiana 103, Philadelphia 91

Charlotte 108, Milwaukee 106, OT

Miami 107, Washington 95

Toronto 109, Atlanta 102

Boston 121, Brooklyn 105

Memphis 105, Minnesota 101

Chicago 104, New York 80

Denver 89, Detroit 79

Houston 104, Utah 93

Phoenix 119, L.A. Lakers 99

Golden State 95, Sacramento 77

Portland 106, Oklahoma City 89

Thursday's Games

Washington at Orlando, 7 p.m.

Detroit at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

New York at Cleveland, 8 p.m.

Utah at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Oklahoma City at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 p.m.

NFL

Thursday, Oct. 30

New Orleans at Carolina, 8:25 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 2

Arizona at Dallas, 1 p.m.

Philadelphia at Houston, 1 p.m.

N.Y. Jets at Kansas City, 1 p.m.

Washington at Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Tampa Bay at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Jacksonville at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

San Diego at Miami, 1 p.m.

St. Louis at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m.

Oakland at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

Denver at New England, 4:25 p.m.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m.

Open: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee

Monday, Nov. 3

Indianapolis at N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m.

NHL

Wednesday's Games

Detroit 4, Washington 2

Nashville 4, Edmonton 1

Thursday's Games

Boston at Buffalo, 7 p.m.

Winnipeg at New Jersey, 7 p.m.

Los Angeles at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

Chicago at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.

Philadelphia at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.

Arizona at Florida, 7:30 p.m.

Anaheim at St. Louis, 8 p.m.

San Jose at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

N.Y. Islanders at Colorado, 9 p.m.

Montreal at Vancouver, 10 p.m.

MLS PLAYOFFS

KNOCKOUT ROUND Times EDT Eastern Conference

Thursday, Oct. 30: Sporting Kansas City at New York, 8 p.m.

Western Conference

Wednesday, Oct 29: FC Dallas 2, Vancouver 1.

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KEYE-TV Sports Team


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