Tennis players show their love for the game, skills on wheels
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Tennis is about love. Heck, there is even love in the scoring. But it was heartfelt love that got Pat Mulvihill into the sport.
"My primary reason for playing tennis in high school was to keep an eye on my girlfriend." Mulvihill said.
That was more than 40 years ago, and the former Marine is still playing.
"I love it!"
The game is different now. The veteran lost both legs in Vietnam. That has not stopped the 65-year-old Natchez native from swinging a racquet every chance he gets. Only now, he does it on wheels.
This weekend, Mulvihill and 126 other wheelchair athletes from around the world have converged on the Paula G. Manship YMCA tennis courts for the 26th annual Cajun Classic Wheelchair Tennis Tournament. Mulvihill has not missed one.
"I just play for the love of the game." Mulvihill said. "If I win, fine. If I lose, that's fine too."
The Classic is one of the biggest competitions on the circuit, and attracts novices and top wheelchair players from around the world.
Karin Johnson is one of the local wheelchair athletes competing this weekend. Spina Bifida put Johnson on wheels when she was a kid. Tennis lets her soar. After several years off the circuit, Johnson says she got the itch to play again.
"It kind of puts you on an even keel with everybody else." Johnson said. "You feel independence. There's nothing better than to be able to show what you can do."
What they can do, is play a pretty mean game of tennis.
"I'm going to play until the doctor says I can't play or they throw dirt in my face," said Mulvihill.
So, tennis is definitely about love. Love of competition. Love of the game. And the love of life. It's all on display at the Cajun Classic this weekend.
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