In 2009, Nate Melynk was paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident. Now, the Greenlawn, New York, teen competes on the varsity tennis team— the state’s first wheelchair athlete on an able-bodied team.
Nate, a junior at Harborfields High School, used tennis to heal, Fox5 reported. His adjustable tennis wheelchair allows him to maneuver quickly without tipping over.
"I enjoy being on the court because it's fun to hang around all my friends," Nate told Fox5.
Mike Melynk said Nate regained use of his upper body after his accident was “almost a miracle.”
Nate is a role model to other players, his coach, Bob Davis, told Fox 5, adding that if Nate can do drills, so can they.
"I always saw him in lower school and middle school and I always thought, 'Oh man, that's kind of sad,'" teammate Bobby Bellino told Fox 5. "But the fact that he plays tennis, that's kind of inspiring."
Davis said Nate plays against players of all ages and abilities.
"He's quite expert at getting that chair up and down and around,” Davis told Fox5.
According to the United States Tennis Association, wheelchair tennis follows the same rules of able-bodied tennis, but the wheelchair tennis player is allowed two bounces of the ball.
The tennis season ends this week, but Nate plans to play in wheelchair tournaments across the country and hopes to join the junior national wheelchair tennis team.
"It's nice when I win against the able-bodied kids because they're so much faster and they just get to everything," Nate told Fox5.