One of Canada’s best wheelchair tennis players over the past two decades, Yuka Chokyu is making a comeback this season and was recently named to the Canadian wheelchair tennis Parapan Am Games team. While she is no stranger to multi-sport Games – she participated in the 2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens, and 2008 Beijing Paralympics – she will be competing in her first Parapan Am Games in August. Here’s more about Chokyu:
Birthdate: December 9, 1966
Residence: Vancouver, BC
World Ranking (as of July 20, 2015): World No. 42 Singles / World No. 63 Doubles
Career-High Rankings: World No. 6 Singles (July 7, 1998) / World No. 3 Doubles (January 28, 2002)
A former Top 10 player in both singles and doubles, she returned to the tour earlier this season, winning three ITF Futures Series tournaments in Sri Lanka in March. Back up to world No. 42, Chokyu will be a contender at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto.
On when she fell in the love with the sport:
My able-bodied friend tried to teach me how to play tennis at a nearby public tennis court. I tried for the first time with my everyday chair. During the first month, I was really frustrated as I couldn’t even make contact with a ball, but he was very patient and kept bringing me out to the courts. Then, when I was finally able to hit the very first ball, I “suddenly” began loving the sport.
On her goals in the sport:
I would definitely go for a medal at the Parapan American Games in Toronto; if you don’t think about it, you don’t even have a chance to get it. Our doubles team is composed of two very consistent players, so we definitely have a shot at it.
On her proudest moment in wheelchair tennis:
That was when I played at the NEC Singles Masters in 1998 in Netherlands, and I was the only non-Dutch player who went to the semifinals after the round-robin matches. Also, I was the first Canadian to play the prestigious singles Masters. Another moment I am proud of is when we, the Canadian women’s team, had a podium finish in third-place at the 1999 World Team Cup in New York.
On playing the Parapan Am Games at home:
It’s incredible that I can get to play in front of the home support, and that will definitely be my source of energy especially when pressure mounts.
On what might surprise people about wheelchair tennis:
People who have never seen our sport often ask “do you play on a smaller-sized tennis court?” as they perceive that it is difficult to maneuver wheelchairs with a racquet in hand. We are pretty mobile and more agile on court than people might imagine.
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 is sending two men and two women to the tournament, and the full team was recently announced.