Conner Stroud was faced with a monumental decision very early in his life.
The son of tennis pros, Conner would often accompany his parents to the Peach Tree Racquet Club in Forest City, N.C., where they were instructors. But Conner, born with a birth defect called Bilateral Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency that left him without hips, ankles, femurs or knees, was at a severe disadvantage when it came to getting on the court.
"We were at the tennis club just about every day, so it was either just sit there or start playing," Conner's mother, Rita, told Matt Gottfried of USTA North Carolina.
Conner chose to play.
And so with a pair of short legs called "stubbies," 12-year-old Conner has become a mainstay of North Carolina tennis courts. He's played against able-bodied opponents in singles and doubles tournaments. And he's won.
“He can play the ball and if you hit it to him, you’ll be sorry,” Rita told The Daily Courier. “Conner has better strokes than other players, but their legs are longer."
Conner has attended several professional tournaments and has even gotten the chance to hit with Andy Roddick, Jim Courier and John Isner.
As Conner enters his teenage years and his competitors get bigger and stronger, he plans on transitioning to playing in a wheelchair. And even though this will be a significant adjustment, Conner's parents are confident that he will maintain his success.
“To be a good player, you have to have an athletic body and a determination," Rita said. "He doesn’t have the body, but he has the drive."
To Read Matt Gottfried's entire profile of Conner Stroud, see here.