Robbie Sullivan, a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi,
enjoys teaching wheelchair tennis at the university's Gulf Park
campus, but he has not always been an avid tennis player or fan
of the sport.
To watch him
play or to hear him discuss the sport, it's hard to believe that
Sullivan, who has a degree in sport administration, just recently
became involved in tennis.
A Crystal Springs
native, Sullivan became interested in wheelchair tennis when a friend
of his, Johnny McGinn, approached him at a movie theater about it.
McGinn asked him if he was interested in playing wheelchair tennis.
Sullivan agreed, but with much skepticism.
for a while, Sullivan, a paraplegic with a t-7 spinal chord injury,
discovered he liked the sport and began playing regularly.
With the encouragement
of McGinn, Sullivan decided to begin competing in tournaments.
That was two
years ago and now Sullivan is ranked 13th nationally in Division
C wheelchair tennis, winning one singles title and two doubles.
He has competed in tournaments in Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas
It was at a
tennis exhibition that Dr. Sara Jackson, associate professor at
Southern Miss and director of the Toy Library and Technology Learning
Center (TLC), asked Sullivan about giving wheelchair tennis lessons
at the center to people with disabilities.
he enjoys giving lessons because it gives him a chance to go to
work every day and do something he loves.
it is important to increase awareness of wheelchair sports, and
that TLC offering tennis lessons has had an impact in making the
public aware of this sport, as well as other things TLC has to offer.
are people who do not know about wheelchair sports or TLC and it
is important to increase awareness," said Sullivan. "It
is important because if someone had not helped me, I would not have
gotten into it," he said. "You never know how well you
will like something until you try it."
Sullivan gives lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays. Jackson said there
are plans for Sullivan to give lessons more often at TLC. Sullivan's
activities are not limited to wheelchair tennis. He also plays wheelchair
basketball for the Gulf Coast Hurricanes.
For more information,
contact the Southern Miss Gulf Coast TLC at (228) 867-2636.