Three-Time National Champion David Williams Didn’t Intend to Be a Tennis Player

Editor’s Note: Every great champion has a mountain to climb, and the steeper and the higher the mountain, the more mental and physical strength required to reach the top. David Williams of Atlanta, Georgia, national champion in the A Divisionwheelchair division – of the United States Tennis Association, talks today about the person who believed in him enough to help him succeed in his sport.  Part 3 of a four-part series.

David Williams is a champion on and off the tennis court.

David Williams is a champion on and off the tennis court.

Question: David, what hooked you on the sport of tennis?

Williams: I was in love with basketball. Unfortunately, the sport of wheelchair basketball has one major limiting factor. You’re at the mercy of a lot of other people. If you don’t have enough players to make a team, you can’t play. When you’re in a community like Springfield, Missouri, my hometown, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to have a team of wheelchair basketball players or other teams to play.

So, I learned early that there were a lot of people required to be able to compete in the sport of wheelchair basketball. My ability to play the sport was contingent on finding enough people to make a team and then finding several more teams to play against. If a couple of people on your team decided they didn’t want to play anymore, then you no longer had a team. That was exactly what happened to our wheelchair basketball team.

One of the things I really liked about wheelchair tennis was that you only had to find one other person who wanted to play. I learned that I could be very competitive, even with able-bodied players. Plus, there were more people I could compete with and against in tennis than there were in basketball.

David and his doubles partner, David Shapiro

David and his doubles partner, David Shapiro

Question: Who introduced you to tennis?

Williams: My good friend in high school, Mark Thompson, was an excellent tennis player, and for some reason, he decided to invest his time and talent in me. Mark had a tremendous amount of patience. He’d take me out every day to hit tennis balls and practice. He’d practice with me for hours, throwing balls and letting me hit them. Even though I wasn’t very good at tennis, he continued to work with me. I started playing tennis at about 17- or 18-years old, and I continued to improve over time. As I improved, I continued to be encouraged to play more.

I also realized that with tennis I only needed one other person to participate, whereas in basketball I needed at least four other guys in wheelchairs to have a team. Then we needed several other teams to play against. So, in basketball, I needed at least five to 25 people to compete against as opposed to only one for tennis, and that person could be able-bodied or in a wheelchair.

Question: Why did Mark continue to coach and teach you the game of tennis?

Williams: I remember the old adage, “You can’t have 10 best friends.” To this day, I can honestly say that Mark was the best friend I ever had. I don’t really know how you explain a friendship like ours. Mark knew me before my illness, and he stuck with me after. When I went into a wheelchair, he never gave up on me.

Most 14- and 15-year olds wouldn’t know how to deal with a friend in a wheelchair. Many of my friends withdrew from me in high school, because they didn’t know what to say or do. In high school, young people have a lot of to deal with, but Mark was always there for me and always by my side. He was my friend in every capacity.

He drove me around, taught me tennis and was one of those rare true friends you should count yourself fortunate to have. But during all my success, Mark got lost in the shuffle and never got credit for helping me become and achieving all I have in tennis. Had it not been for Mark, I don’t know that I would have had the success I’ve had in the world of tennis.

David has won plenty of trophies and awards on the tennis court, but he gives all the credit to his friend Mark who encouraged him to first pick up a raquet.

David has won plenty of trophies and awards on the tennis court, but he gives all the credit to his friend Mark who encouraged him to first pick up a raquet.

David Williams’ story has a special place in our heart because David has been part of the UroMed family for more than 10 years. He currently works with clinicians and patients across the Southeast as a Territory Representative for UroMed.  David also volunteers as a peer counselor for UroMed’s non-profit program: Life After Spinal Cord Injury.

Next: How Three-Time National Champion David Williams Discovered His Tennis Talent

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

About UroMed Catheters
Headquartered in Suwanee, GA [a suburb of Atlanta], UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of single-use catheters, urological and disposable medical supplies, including intermittent catheters, closed system catheters, condom catheters, pediatric catheters and continence care products. UroMed is nationally accredited for Medicare reimbursement and most state Medicaid plans, and partners with private health insurance providers and health plans to provide patients with single-use catheters, catheter kits and incontinence products. UroMed also has seven staffed regional offices located in Boston, MA; Columbia, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Dallas, TX; Carlsbad, CA; Knoxville, TN; Richmond, VA; and Baton Rouge, LA; enabling next-day delivery after a customer’s initial medical supply order. For more information, please visit http://www.uromed.com or call 1-800-841-1233.

3 Responses to Three-Time National Champion David Williams Didn’t Intend to Be a Tennis Player

  1. Pingback: National Tennis Champion David Williams Talks About The Important Stuff: Girls & Dating « UroMed Catheter Health Blog

  2. Pingback: How National Tennis Champion David Williams Discovered His Tennis Talent & The I-Can Attitude « UroMed Catheter Health Blog

  3. Pingback: National Tennis Champion David Williams Talks About The Important Stuff: Girls & Dating

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