Playing in the men’s final of the U.S. Open Wheelchair Tennis Championship is nothing new to Brad Parks or Randy Snow.
Top-seeded Parks of San Clemente, the executive director of the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis, had won 3 championships. Fourth-seeded Snow, from Birmingham, Ala., had won 5. Either Parks or Snow had won every U.S. Open title since 1980.
So given their mutual experience, how did Snow approach the match against a player he regards as the best in the world?
“I did all my work,” Snow said. “I felt good, and I wanted to keep it simple.”
The strategy paid off for Snow, who was a nationally ranked junior tennis player before a ranching accident 13 years ago left him a paraplegic. He defeated Parks, 7-6, 6-2, at the Irvine Racquet Club with an impressive forehand and quick mobility.
“I was hoping to win, and kind of expecting to win, but I’m never surprised when Randy beats me,” Parks said.
“Whenever we play each other we’re pretty psyched-up, but he had a better day today.”
In wheelchair tennis, the ball is allowed to bounce twice, but neither player made much use of that rule. They skillfully maneuvered their wheelchairs with one hand and smashed the ball with the other.
Snow, who won the silver medal in the 1,500-meter wheelchair race in Los Angeles in 1984 and holds national track records in the 200, 400, 1,500 and the 5,000 meters, called Sunday’s victory the pinnacle of his career.
“This is everything, it’s great. This is just unbelievable,” said Snow, who also has competed for U.S. teams in international wheelchair basketball tournaments.
Parks had trouble with his serve and forehand throughout the match, which was played in front of about 700, the largest crowd in the competition’s 10-year history. Play was mostly from the baseline. Parks, who is credited with creating competitive wheelchair tennis, scored the only time either player came to the net.
Parks, who became paralyzed from the waist down in a skiing accident in 1976, teamed with Rick Slaughter of Nashville to beat Snow and Chip Parmelly of Diamond Bar, 6-0, 6-2, in the doubles final.