How Wheelchair Tennis Brought Me Back to Life

About the Author: Christina Pesendorfer is a wheelchair tennis player, and currently trains in hopes that she will make it to the Paralympics. She shares her journey with becoming disabled and learning to find her strength through her passion for sports and how she translated this into finding wheelchair tennis. You can follow more of her journey and see her travel adventures on her instagram (@tina.pesendorfer).

Wheelchair tennis saved my life. 

When I had my accident in June 2007, my life changed in a matter of seconds. I jumped from the second floor of a building because my ex boyfriend wanted to kill me; I had to get out of his apartment and this was the only way. This jump left me paralyzed from the navel down, I cannot feel or move my legs at all. 

At the time I had just turned 18 and I was nowhere near ready to hear the words “you will never walk again”, or to deal with so many new things. I struggled a lot in the beginning, it was so hard to learn to be independent in a wheelchair, to do everything with only your arms. Everything was frustrating and different but I tried my best to find my way back into my new life. 

For me the worst loss of all was the ability to play any of the sports I wanted to. Before my accident I loved to dance, play volleyball, run, ride a bike, and so many more things. This is why I stopped playing sports all together for years, because I was so mad about the whole situation. Everything was so hard in the first few years, all the things I did seemed to be such big challenges, even just putting my wheelchair in my car. As I said I really struggled for a long time. I think I was living, but I was not alive. 

One day my friend told me about wheelchair tennis and I thought I could give it a try. First I only played once a week and I really liked it so I decided to stick with it a little bit longer. This was the best decision I have ever made. Wheelchair tennis changed my life in ways so much bigger and better I could have ever imagined. And it’s not only the sport itself, it’s the people involved too. The athletes that play this sport are a big community, everyone has similar stories and they know about your obstacles in life. For example when I tell my friends at home “Oh yesterday I fell out of my chair”, they panic and ask if everything is ok. If I tell this to the people I play wheelchair tennis with, they laugh and tell stories about their last time falling out of their chair. Sure, they ask if everything was okay but they also give you a feeling of understanding and compassion without feeling sorry for you. Wheelchair tennis and all the athletes I’ve met on my way through these last years that have given me so much power and joy, has brought me back to life. 

Now I train five times a week with my own coach and other wheelchair tennis players too. I also often go to the gym to stay fit and get enough strength for the competitions. I travel all over the world to play international tournaments in order to get better and better because my big dream is to compete at the paralympics one day. 

I guess when I started wheelchair tennis six years ago I had no clue that if you find your purpose… you find yourself!