SHE only took up the sport six years ago, and now Port Macquarie’s Janel Manns is London bound to represent Australia in wheelchair tennis.
Manns has been given a wildcard entry to the Paralympics, and will take to the court from September 1-6.
Manns will play singles and doubles for Australia.
She will partner with Australia’s most experienced player, Daniela Di Toro, in the doubles.
“She was one of the first people to ring me when I got selected,” Manns said.
Manns had her last day at work at Port Macquarie TAFE yesterday and will now head to either Madrid – where Tennis Australia has a base – or England ahead of the games.
“I know where I’d rather head to,” she said.
Never in her wildest dreams did she expect to be selected to represent Australia.
Manns made the switch from wheelchair basketball to tennis when she moved back to Port Macquarie from Sydney.
She said she wasn’t enjoying basketball as much, and tennis was easier to play in a town like Port.
“It’s not easy to put together a whole wheelchair tennis team,” Manns said.
She didn’t know much about tennis, “only that you had a ball, a racquet and a square you had to keep it in”.
Australian coach Greg Crump heard Manns was taking up the sport, and invited her to trial in Melbourne.
And the rest is history.
With the Opening Ceremony for the Games on August 29, Manns doesn’t have much time to prepare.
She plans to spend most of her next few weeks on the court, working with coach Phil Robinson.
He’s from the Kendall Tennis Club, and Manns said she didn’t think she could represent Australia without the club’s support.
She credits taking on able-bodied opposition being part of her success.
Manns said she had trouble playing at other Port Macquarie tennis clubs because of her disability.
“But at Kendall, there hasn’t been any discrimination whatsoever,” she said.
She’s competed against players from C grade through to A grade, and has benefited from the tough competition.