Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tennis player dictates points despite missing limb

From the Collegiate Times...

Muscle pulls and cramping are often grounds to remove oneself from a tennis match, but try asking Virginia Tech's No. 4 tennis starter what it's like to play with a missing limb.

Losing her left arm from the elbow down at birth to Amniotic Band Syndrome, J.J. Larson knew she had to make do with what she had...

....As Larson grew up, her mother, Susie, noticed that even when she was given lemons, J.J. Larson figured out a way to make lemonade, and hardships couldn't stand in her way.

"She never complained," Susie Larson said. "Just adjusted to the situation."

"She was determined to get back out there and become even better from that situation," Zawacki-Woods said.

"It's hard to keep her down and hard to keep her off the court."

Fortunately for Larson, this was no departure from how she'd been living her life since she was a child.

For starters, she's defied the paradox of serving with the use of but one hand and forearm, only to make it a strength — with some help from prosthetics.

Her appendage, forged from plastic and rubber, forms an open semi-circle at the hand on which she rests the tennis ball.

From there, she merely catapults the ball into the air and clobbers a blistering serve that has been clocked at nearly 100 miles per hour.

"When you toss the ball, your hand has all this motion," Larson said.

"Well, this hand doesn't have any motion. It (the serve toss) goes to the same place every time."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To really get a sense of her power & touch, you must see her play. At this level of tennis, it's rare to see drop shot "winners," yet JJ hits them against the best players in the country.
It should also be noted that she bounced back after being struck by a truck on campus in the winter of her Freshman year (& the NCAA not allowing her to "red shirt" despite a broken collar bone & other injuries). Case is reported at, LandauInjuryLaw and Virginia Lawyers Weekly.