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Road to Parapan Am: Spotlight on Sarah Hunter

Jul 08, 2015
written by: Tennis Canada
written by: Tennis Canada

A longtime No. 1 Canadian wheelchair tennis player, Sarah Hunter is one of the best athletes the sport has produced in this country. Since discovering wheelchair tennis at age 34, she has represented Canada at two Paralympic Games and numerous World Team Cup events. Currently dealing with injury, she is doing her best to try and get ready to potentially represent Canada at another big multi-sport event – the Pan Am Games in Toronto. Here is what you need to know about Hunter:


Birthdate: March 16, 1965
Residence: Surrey, British Columbia
World Ranking (as of July 6, 2015):
WOMEN’S – World No. 94 Singles / World No. 112 Doubles
Career-High Rankings:
WOMEN’S – World No. 28 Singles (April 30, 2001) / World No. 14 Doubles (October 1, 2001)
QUAD – World No. 2 (April 21, 2003) / No. 14 Doubles (October 16, 2000)
Career Highlights:

  • 11-time singles champion and seven-time doubles champion at Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships
  • Two-time Paralympian at the 2004 Athens Games and 2008 Beijing Games. She finished fourth in quad doubles in Athens, just missing out on a medal. The result remains Canada’s best finish in wheelchair tennis at a Paralympic Games.
  • 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2013 Canadian Wheelchair Tennis Athlete of the Year
  • Participated in 12 World Team Cups for Canada, and was a team member on the fourth-place team in 2003, Canada’s best result at a World Team Cup in the quad event

Since discovering wheelchair tennis in September 2000, Hunter took to the sport immediately and became competitive very quickly. She has spent the majority of her career in the Top 10 and reached a career-high ranking of world No. 2 in the quad category – the highest ranking a Canadian wheelchair tennis player has ever hit. She has spent the last year playing women’s events with the hope of representing her country at the Parapan Am Games this August.

Sarah Hunter

On when she fell in the love with the sport:

I went to the very first ‘Bridging the Gap’ day that BC Wheelchair Sports put on and I got in a tennis chair there. I tried out different sports there – I tried rugby, track, basketball and tennis. But I got in the tennis chair and said, ‘This is amazing!’ and I have played ever since.

I literally fell in love with (tennis) that day. I started taking lessons the following week, that’s how absolutely amazing I thought it was and I did my first competition the following January.

On her goals in the sport:

For this season, if I’m healthy…is to medal in the Parapan Am Games and then to finish off the year playing a couple key events. Looking beyond this season, the only thing I’m going to play starting in 2016 – if selected – is World Team Cup. I’m not going to play on the tour anymore, I’ve done it for 15 years, and it’s exhausting and it takes a lot of time away from my family.

On her proudest moment in wheelchair tennis:

My proudest moments are being at the Paralympics and World Team Cup, wearing the Canadian uniform and truly representing Canada and being able to represent Canada well. Out of competition, it’s being able to share the absolute joy of tennis with people who are either recently injured or who just never had any exposure to what they can do after an injury.

I travelled to Brazil and the mission was to get more women and quads playing tennis there. They’d never had quad draws and now they always have quad draws – seeing things like that happen is just amazing.

On playing the Parapan Am Games at home:

Playing the Parapan Am Games at home would be the icing on the cake. There’s not many events that I’ve ever played in Canada because they wouldn’t have helped my ranking. Being able to wear the national uniform in front of Canadian fans would be incredible, and I have a lot of family and friends in Toronto as well!

On what might surprise people about wheelchair tennis:

With the exception of letting the ball bounce twice, that it’s the exact same as able-bodied tennis and that wheelchair athletes and able-bodied athletes can play tournaments together and against each other. It’s the same game. It’s such an accessible sport.

Sarah Hunter


The 2015 Toronto Parapan Am Games take place August 7-15, with the wheelchair tennis event located at the University of Toronto Scarborough Tennis Centre. Canada will be sending two men and two women to the tournament, with the team set to be announced in July.