“I wanted to go to the Paralympic Games since I was a kid, since I first got hurt and learned about the Paralympic Games, and tennis was able to get me there,” explained Kaitlyn Verfuerth.
At seven years old, Verfuerth was in a car accident and broke her back.
“I either had one of two choices,” she described. “I was either going to just kind of live my life in a chair and just do whatever, or I had this opportunity to play sports and travel the world.”
Now at 30 years old, Kaitlyn's been to two Paralympic Games in wheelchair tennis. Last year she won a bronze and a silver medal in the Parapan Am Games in Toronto, and in 2007, she won two gold medals in Rio.
“So I'm hoping Rio can give me some luck,” she said with a laugh.
Ranked 18th in the world, the top 22 women wheelchair tennis players earn a trip to Rio. But it's here the Port Washington native got her start.
“Jackie and Brian [Egelhoff] taught me everything here in terms of how to hit a ball,” Verfuerth said.
“She would always, when I was honored to be working with her, she really worked hard and wanted to stay out on the court hours and hours,” said Kaitlyn’s youth coach Jackie Mueller-Egelhoff with a smile. “Couldn't get her off the court, so [she was] real determined.”
Kaitlyn started playing tennis around 13 years old. Within a year and a half, she became one of the best wheelchair tennis players in the country and is still determined to be one of the best in the world.
Tuesday Kaitlyn is being inducted into the Port Washington High School hall of fame. Though in a wheelchair, she played on the high school’s tennis team all four years.