Local tennis player to compete in US Open this week

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2023

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RUTHERFORDTON—Conner Stroud, a professional tennis player and Paralympian from Rutherfordton, has accomplished another career goal after an exciting summer in which he won five tournaments. As the #2 ranked American in the International Tennis Federation Wheelchair Tennis rankings, he has been awarded entry into the sixteen-player field at the U.S. Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships this week in Flushing Meadows, NY. 

A graduate of Thomas Jefferson Academy, Stroud has steadily risen in the rankings over the last year by winning and competing in tournaments all over the world. Now, the 22-year-old sets his sights on the national championship, the US Open. 

“I’m excited to play in the US Open,” said Stroud. “It’s something I’ve worked hard for, and I’m ready to give it my all.” 

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Stroud has been training at the Spindale National Armory courts and his parents’ business, Peachtree Racquet Club in Forest City, a popular playing destination for Polk County residents. His coaching team of Steve Vaughn and his father, Dewey Stroud, a former Clemson tennis player, will accompany him to the tournament. 

“Excited and happy for him,” said Dewey Stroud. “It’s nice to see all his hard work pay off, and this is just the start.” 

Conner, who walks using a foreshortened prosthesis for each leg, eventually transitioned to playing in a wheelchair at the age of ten and soon began to get noticed throughout the international tennis circuit. 

“Transitioning to playing in the wheelchair took some time since I don’t usually use a wheelchair,” Stroud said. “The key is to get a good initial push to get to the ball, and the chairs are designed the same as other wheelchair sports, so they are lightweight.” 

Conner encourages kids to follow their dreams., as he has.

“In sports or anything, find something you like to do,” he says. “Get out and just enjoy playing. The great thing about sports is it brings people together. If you love it, who knows? I never thought I’d be playing in the US Open when I began.” 

The US Open Wheelchair Men’s Championship will be streamed on ESPN Plus. His first match was set for Tuesday against #8 in the world, Takuya Miki of Japan, a former US Open WC semifinalist.