I was born a healthy child about a week before Christmas in San Diego, California in 1990. I am the youngest of my family, with a brother named, Scott who is 4.5 years older than me. We are a very close-knit family, which is probably due to my Asian heritage, where family is the center of everything. My mom is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who came to the U.S. for a better future for their family. She pursued a career in medicine and became a successful pediatrician. My dad, on the other side, is Scottish/Polish, so my brother and I are a mix of both and proud to represent a diverse background.
I was a very active child. Soccer was my favorite sport and I played it well. When I was 10 years old, I contracted a rare autoimmune disease, called Transverse Myelitis. The cause of the disease is still unknown due to its rarity, but it leaves people paralyzed at varying levels depending on where it attacks your spine. For me, it got me at my waistline leaving me partially paraplegic. The onset of the disease was sudden: Within 30 minutes, I went from running sprints at soccer practice to lying on the floor unable to move my legs. After being in the hospital for about a month, my mom decided to take me to try adaptive sports. Somebody had told her about a wheelchair tennis camp that I should sign up for. Since I grew up as a very athletic child, I was extremely hesitant to see what adaptive sports would be like in comparison. I never thought they would be competitive enough – I was quickly proven wrong.
I tried a myriad of adaptive sports starting when I was 13, including wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby, but tennis is the one I fell in love with. I began practicing with players out at the Barnes Tennis Center in Point Loma, as well as training with a coach up in Carlsbad every week. Soon after, I began to play tournaments on the Wheelchair Tennis Tour, was named to the United States High Performance Team through the USTA, and have been playing ever since.
For my bachelor's degree, I went to the University of Arizona, mainly because they are one of the few schools in the country that have a collegiate level adaptive sports program and gave me a scholarship to compete on their wheelchair tennis team. Being able to play adaptive sports at a Division I school was a dream and I’m so happy I chose to go there. I absolutely loved my undergraduate time at UofA. I studied Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences for my major and got my minor in Psychology.
I stayed at Arizona after getting my Bachelor’s degree, to get a post-graduate degree as well. After one year of my doctorate program at the UofA, I decided to take a leave of absence to pursue my athletic dreams and qualify for my first Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I competed on the tour full-time for 3 years during this break, and reached a career high world singles ranking of 9, and doubles ranking of 6.
I was and still am, the number 1 ranked US female in wheelchair tennis!
In December 2019, I decided to move to England to finish my Audiology doctorate degree that I had started in Arizona. I was admitted to University College London, a top ranked university especially for my field of study. London also offered great opportunities in terms of training and coaching.
Upon graduation, I returned to the US to relocate in Orlando, FL at the USTA National Campus to train full time as a professional tennis player. Unfortunately, soon after my relocation, the COVID-19 global pandemic hit the world and a lot in my life changed overnight, just like everyone around the world. It has been a very difficult year so far but I am grateful to be healthy and safe and all my family and loved ones are as well.
I should also say that I took a break from tennis from 2011-2013 due to some family concerns as well as my desire to focus more on my education. However, I returned to tennis in the spring of 2013 and have been loving it ever since. Taking a break was the best thing I could have done, because I was getting burnt-out from balancing tennis and my education for so many years. I also needed time away to make sure that tennis was something I truly was passionate about. Now that I’ve come back on my own terms, I have a new desire to compete and foster my talents that wouldn’t be there had I not taken the time to refocus my thoughts regarding my athletic career. Although I know that I cannot physically play tennis forever, I want to take my athletic career as far as it can go. I feel that I am capable of being in the top-5, if not the best in the game if I have the time, resources, and coaching that it takes to compete with the other women on tour. I have proven that with limited training, coaching, or outside resources (i.e. S&C, sports psych, etc.) that I can compete with the best, and I’d love to see what I’m capable of if my training regimen could more closely resemble my competitors’.
My plan is to compete in the Tokyo Paralympics for USA (rescheduled for 2021), and then break into the top 8 and start playing slams where the world's attention is on all competitors. I truly think that I can thrive once I can dedicate my time and energy full-time into tennis, and I’m really excited to start going full-time with my tennis again soon.
After retiring from playing wheelchair tennis, I plan on becoming a Pediatric Audiologist. Since I was affected by a disease at such a young age, I know how much of an effect health care professionals can have on a child and family. Being a pediatric audiologist would mean I would get to have that same impact on peoples’ qualities of life and I think that input and affect on a child’s development would be incredibly rewarding.
Thank you for reading my story! If you have any questions, please contact me.