For Conner Stroud, an inspirational young tennis player who was born without hips or legs, this summer's U.S. Open may be one to remember.
The North Carolina native spent some time with one of his tennis heroes, Rafael Nadal, on Tuesday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"The most important thing is that he's happy," Nadal told the Associated Press. "He's able to keep practicing the sport. He's playing tennis. That's great for him, for the family. That's a great example that you can be happy even if life doesn't give you everything. It's a big example for me and should be a big example for a lot of people."
Stroud, who was born with a birth defect called Bilateral Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency that left him without hips, ankles, femurs or knees, began accompanying his parents to the Peach Tree Racquet Club in Forest City, N.C., at a young age. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, according to a recent profile of him on USTA.com, he decided to pick up a racquet and try it out. Since then, he's hit against some of the game's biggest stars as well as competing against kids his own age.
"We were at the tennis club just about every day, so it was either just sit there or start playing," his mom, Rita, told the website in July. "He’s always loved it and genuinely enjoys it more than any other kid I’ve ever worked with."
According to the U.S. Open's official website, Nadal asked Stroud what he thought of his play and spent a few minutes chatting with him.
“It was awesome to finally see him play; he hits much faster than you think on TV,” Stroud told the website. “He plays with a western forehand grip and so do I. He’s very nice on court and he just is so nice.”
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