We travel to Rutherfordton and Forest City to meet one of the top-ranked wheelchair tennis players in the world. But the incredible thing is, 15-year-old Conner Stroud also plays #2 seed on his able-bodied high school tennis team at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy. Conner was born without hip joints, ankles, femurs or knees, but that doesn’t stop him from being ranked the #1 junior wheelchair tennis player in the United States and #9 in the world. Conner hopes his determination and drive against all odds inspires others to follow their dreams.
It’s an honor to inspire people, and just that I could maybe help them get through a challenge.
Conner Stroud started playing tennis when he was five years old. He was eager to learn the sport and began playing with his sister and other family members; before long, it was clear he found his niche.
But Conner was learning to play tennis despite a physical challenge. Born with proximal focal femoral deficiency, Conner was born with only one main leg bone for each leg. Still, overcoming the odds, he worked his way up to playing junior tournaments, moving from there onto the next division. Now 15 years old, he plays #2 seed on his able-bodied high school team, and is ranked the #1 junior wheelchair tennis player in the U.S. and #9 in the world.
“I’ve coached Conner from day one, and for Conner to play on his tennis team—it’s a great thing for Conner to be able to do that and to inspire other wheelchair players to go play,” said Conner’s dad and coach, Dewey Stroud. “We’ve had many people tell us that he’s inspired them to get out and play a sport.”
For Conner, being that inspiration to people is an honor.
“It’s an honor to inspire people, and just that I could maybe help them get through a challenge,” he said.
His goal now is to be the #1 junior wheelchair tennis player in the world, before he turns 19. “I feel like that’s a very attainable goal,” said Conner’s mom, Rita Stroud.
His perseverance, and talent have served Conner well in his rise to the junior wheelchair tennis world rankings. And he hopes that people can take away from that.
“I just hope they take the message to never give up and to just keep trying, and it’ll all work out in the end.”