Thomas Venos raises his fist in the air.

It can be a challenge for student-athletes to balance their academic and sporting pursuits and many chose one path or the other. But Canada’s Thomas Venos managed to see both through.

The Anmore, BC native recently became the first Canadian ever to graduate from a United States college on a wheelchair tennis team. Venos is graduating from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Education.

“Congratulations to Thomas on earning his college degree. Having been part of his journey as an aspiring wheelchair tennis player I know that it has not always been easy to reconcile the academic demands with his tennis schedule,” said Kai Schrameyer, National Coach of Wheelchair Tennis with Tennis Canada.

“I am excited to see him take the next step in his tennis career on the road to the Para Pan Am Games this November and the ultimate prize: The 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.”

Read also: Team Canada Sending Their Best to Wheelchair World Team Cup Qualifying

In his time with the Crimson Tide starting in 2018, Venos helped the wheelchair tennis team claim two national titles, in 2019 and 2021. The 2020-21 season was his best, as he went undefeated in singles at Collegiate Nationals, not only helping Alabama to the team title but winning the individual singles championship as well.

“I look back and it’s hard to believe 5 years have passed! He deferred his acceptance by one year and together, we combined forces from multiple avenues to cover the cost of attendance. That meant a lot to me that Thomas was willing to wait an entire year to attend showing his commitment to the training and to the education,” said Evan Enquist, Head Wheelchair Tennis Coach at the University of Alabama. “Thomas has always been competitive and had a drive to win. I have always enjoyed that about Thomas as it’s what drives me as well, we love to win or go down swinging! He definitely has the heart of a competitor and he will be missed in this program.”

During both of the national title runs, he was the No. 1 player in both singles and doubles for Alabama.

Venos in 2015.

Venos took up wheelchair tennis in 2015. Schrameyer saw him taking on some of the top juniors in the United States and shared that his first reaction was “This kid has guts.”

Read also: Venos Captures Singles and Doubles Titles at Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships

To go along with his success at the collegiate level, he has been competing at events on the ITF Circuit, reaching a career-high ranking of No. 53 in 2022. He won two singles titles and four doubles titles while a student at Alabama, including the 2018 doubles and the 2022 singles at the Alabama Open.

He has three ITF singles titles overall, along with four doubles titles.