As a high school senior, Mackenzie Soldan was the top-ranked member of the U.S. Juniorwheelchair tennisteam, and she was ranked number one in the Women’s division, too. She also loved wheelchair basketball, and in 2010 she was recruited to play for the University of Alabama’s women’s wheelchair basketball team, ranked number one nationally. Mackenzie thought her days of playing tennis were on hold, at least until after college.

Then, in late October 2011, Soldan received a phone call telling her a member of the U.S. tennis team had dropped out of the Parapan American Games, and she was next in line to compete. Despite her lack of practice, Soldan decided to go – and she brought home gold medals forsinglesand doubles.

Those wins also brought another prize: the right to compete in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
Mackenzie, who lost the use of her legs after surgery for a spinal cord tumor, admits she’s very competitive. Her mother tells a story of young Mackenzie at her first national track meet. “No one told her where the finish line was, so she just kept going and going until people flagged her down!” Mackenzie won that race.

As a tennis player, Soldan has represented the U.S. at competitions in Sweden, Italy, England, France, Mexico, and Turkey. She says her favorite stroke is her forehand, “because I can just smash it.” In preparation for London, she and her coaches are working on speed, endurance, and explosiveness.

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Mackenzie is a 2010 CAL graduate. Click the link below to see a video of Mackenzie’s story.