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Let this be your inspirational story of the week.
Andy Lapthorne hasn’t let cerebral palsy stop him from playing the sport he loves.
Born in Hammersmith, London, the 24-year-old wanted to be a boxer but the physical disability, which mostly affects his legs, prevented him from entering the ring. Then he found tennis.
“I got involved in tennis when I was 10 when I attended a talent ID camp where I met my coach, who is still my coach 14 years later,” Lapthorne, a major Redskins fan, wrote to The Redskins Blog. “Wheelchair tennis is different to most other disability sports as we have a full world tour and play at all four Grand Slams alongside the able-bodied pros.”
Since Lapthorne began the sport, which he says offers him the same one-to-one combat as boxing, he has been extraordinarily successful.
Over his young career, he has amassed 11 professional quad wheelchair singles titles and 14 doubles titles within the International Tennis Federation.
Just recently, he, along with World No. 1 David Wagner, captured his fourth Australian Open doubles title.
Several months earlier, Lapthorne won the U.S Open singles final, his first ever Grand Slam victory.
“Winning the U.S. Open was a dream come true for me,” Lapthorne wrote. “I love New York, and as a kid from London that had seen the Big Apple in the movies, to become a Grand Slam champion there for the first time was very special.”
His ability to maneuver his chair, spinning in a variety of angles, is what sets him apart. Take a look at some video of him volleying with Novak Djokovic to see his craft.
Lapthorne has always been a sports fan, following his soccer team, West Ham United, throughout the season while he’s not touring the world playing tennis.
But his link to the Redskins happened about four to five years ago, when he was captivated by football while playing a tournament in the United States. Soon, he was following Robert Griffin III at Baylor and kept his allegiance when the quarterback went to Washington.
The Redskins’ burgundy and gold is also similar to West Ham United’s colors, “a bonus” for Lapthorne.
“Since then me and a friend watch all the Redskins games and follow the team very closely,” he wrote. “I’ve worn Redskins jerseys in the warm-ups before big matches against American players, normally against World No. 1 David Wagner, who is a big Seahawks fan!”
Lapthorne’s biggest goal is to earn World No. 1. To accomplish that, he’ll need to win another singles Grand Slam tournament, a feat that consistently motivates him every day.
That’s setting the stage for an even greater accomplishment, winning gold in the 2016 Summer Olympics, which takes place in Rio De Janeiro.
A smaller, no less important, goal would be attending a game at FedExField.
“I’ve never been to a Redskins game,” he wrote. “I’ve only been to the [NFL] games at London. I would love to come over and see the team play and maybe meet one of my sporting heroes in RG3!”
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