Miss Wheelchair America 2020 passes on her tennis passion to athletes in Sioux Falls

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Staying active is important for everyone, and playing an adaptive sport is one way to do that. This weekend, Huether Family Match Pointe in Sioux Falls hosted their first Wheelchair Tennis Showcase to teach athletes here about the sport.

When it comes to tennis, you don’t have to be standing on your feet to serve an ace.

“I got involved with tennis about a year after I was injured,” Hilary Muehlberger said. “It helped me to gain confidence, it helped me meet other people and I’ve learned more from my teammates than I probably ever have sitting in a doctor’s office. I’ved learned from their experience and it’s really helped me to grow into a more versatile person.”

Hilary Muehlberger is a wheelchair tennis athlete and Miss Wheelchair America 2020. Her platform is focused on adaptive sports.

“Being in a wheelchair long-term is really difficult,” Muehlberger said. “You’re going to blow your shoulders out, you’re going to have elbow issues, you’re going to have a terrible back. But I found that, the more active I am, and playing tennis is my gym for me.”

Match Pointe in Sioux Falls hopes to grow the idea of adaptive sports in South Dakota and the Midwest.

“We hope to inspire everybody to really have a healthy lifestyle and to get out and promote sports and we think tennis is a great thing,” Lisa Johnson, director of adaptive tennis at Huether Family Match Pointe said. “Our motto for tennis is, ‘tennis is the sport of a lifetime,’ and it truly is.”

“Being able to have everyone see themselves in the game and have more representation is huge. So events like these are really important,” Mya Smith-Dennis, manager of diversity, inclusion and education with the U.S. Tennis Association Northern said.

Muehlberger’s injury happened in 2015 because of a car crash.

“I wasn’t really going anywhere and I was drinking a lot,” Muehlberger said. “Now I’ve been sober four and a half years and I get to wear a crown and talk about tennis. I mean, I just don’t think that life gets any better than that.”

She wants to volley her passion to other athletes, too.

“I hope that they play,” she said. “I hope that they play, truly. I hope that they find something that they’re passionate about.”

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