Sports

Overlooked No More: Randy Snow, Paralympic Champion of Wheelchair Tennis

As an author Snow wrote “Wheelchair Tennis: Myth to Reality” with Dr. Bal Moore, a college coach and close friend and a mentor for 12 years. Published in 1994, it is widely regarded as the gold standard for teaching the sport of wheelchair tennis. Snow also wrote “Pushing Forward: A Memoir of Motivation” (2001) and “Too Far From Home” (2006), whose cover describes it as “A Book About Change, Teamwork, and Being Safe.”

Moore met with Snow regularly for 6 a.m. “visits” — practice sessions in which Snow developed an effective topspin backhand, a harder serve and more potent volleying, most of which his opponents had not yet mastered.

“Randy was really strong, and he had this big-barreled chest which he used to house the heart of a lion,” said David Kiley, a friend and frequent opponent.

In his later years Snow taught beginners at camps he ran worldwide, imploring them, Parks said, to cheer, “Wheelchair tennis: I love it, I love it, I love it!”

“I’ve never known anyone who could captivate like Randy,” Paul Walker, a professional wheelchair tennis player, wrote in an email. “He was a magician with people young and old.”

Three months after his death in El Salvador, his friend and fellow tennis player Bill Hammett returned there to spread some of Snow’s ashes in the Pacific Ocean, not far from a public court that was renamed in Snow’s honor. Hammett dipped his toes in the chilly water, then slipped on a stone under the surface. As he fell, he held a fruit jar that contained Snow’s ashes high above his head to protect them.

“Everyone who was watching from the beach thought I was crying,” Hammett said by phone. “But I was just laying there laughing. I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Randy, I know you’re laughing your ass off right now.’”

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