Back on the tennis court

trying my hand at wheel chair tennis

Last month, I finally did something my sister Susan had suggested over a year ago — I looked up the local wheel chair tennis group and ask if I could join them. The group, Wheel Serve NC, was very welcoming, and borrowed a large sport wheelchair for me to try. I’ve joined them three times now, and though learning to move around quickly in the chair is really hard — and hard work — the feel of hitting a tennis ball again has been awesome. The group of wheel chair players and volunteers have been great. A few of the players are exceptionally good, tournament level, and I’ve been watching and learning a lot. Not sure if I’ll ever get very good at wheeling around accurately and quickly like they can, but I’m enjoying getting some swings in, and enjoying being around a group of people who have been dealt a tough hand via accident or illness but who are making the most of it and living life to the fullest.

My overall health has stayed steady — I’m still able to walk a couple of miles a day using a foot ankle brace, still able to play golf. I was able to return to teaching this fall and loved being back in the classroom, though I can’t say I loved teaching with a mask on. My only struggle has been with fatigue — I just can’t work at the same pace as before the ALS diagnosis without getting very tired. So I’m cutting back wherever I can, listen to my body, and work and play at a sustainable pace. Occasional naps are part of the new normal, and that’s ok.

Our big news this fall is that Karin and I are moving forward with plans to build an accessible home on property we own next door to our current home. We have no idea when I will need to use a wheel chair, but better to prepare now. We’re learning a lot about accessibility design, and are excited to finalize the floor plans and start building mid-2022.


Author: Ken Menkhaus

Professor of Political Science at Davidson College. Specialist on Somalia and the Horn of Africa. Interests include development, statebuilding, informal governance systems, peace and conflict studies, and political Islam. I also teach on philanthropy and the non-profit sector.

2 thoughts on “Back on the tennis court”

  1. Hi Ken,
    Great to hear things are going well. Here’s hoping for new chances to meet up again at in person conferences next year!


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