Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Youth Sports

Brittany Barrett hopes to make Paralympics in wheelchair tennis

BROOKSVILLE

A year ago, Brittany Barrett was just starting to cope with her new affliction — paralysis from the waist down — by taking up wheelchair tennis.

She became paralyzed in June 2007, and doctors have not yet figured out why. She struggled at first while taking up tennis only a few months later. As one of most dedicated, hard-working players on the court, she has come a long way since that time. Now an inspiration to those around her, Brittany has embarked on a journey that hasn't been without obstacles.

Brittany, 17, has been on a roll of late. In April, she was successful in three tournaments and is hoping to continue that with a spot on the European Wheelchair Tour after only 19 months since she started competing.

"I am extremely surprised at how well she's doing," Brittany's mother, Michelle Barrett, said. "She's so positive and so focused on what she wants to do."

At the Florida Wheelchair Open in Boca Raton on April 12, Brittany had tremendous success at three levels. In the junior singles division she was a finalist, coming away with a silver medal. In the women's A singles division, she went undefeated through the consolation bracket for a gold medal. Finally, in the women's A doubles division, she and partner, Auburn Smith, reached the semifinals before falling.

The following weekend, Brittany went to the Pensacola Wheelchair Open, but because of a lack of available divisions, she and partner, Steve Riley, entered the men's C doubles division and faced off with male opponents.

Brittany and Riley took first place overall, and she also made the quarterfinals in the C singles division.

"After (matches like that), I feel like I can't believe it," Brittany said. "You usually just don't beat guys."

Her last tournament of the month took place a couple weekends ago in Altamonte Springs. The Junior Team Tennis program, run by Louise and John Downey, was participating, with Brittany as a key member. She was also the only wheelchair player against a field of able-bodied opponents. She had mixed success.

Early in the season, she was a member of the Nature Coast Technical High tennis program that qualified for the state tournament for the first time in school history. She played 10 matches for the Sharks, though she still had issues dealing with lobs over her head in her wheelchair.

"Facing able-bodies helps me see what I do need to work on," Brittany said. "You have do exercises to improve. It is helping me to improve my game."

Her focus has shifted to wheelchair competition exclusively, and on the advice she has received at numerous tournaments, she is looking for spots on the European Wheelchair Tour and French Wheelchair Tour. However, such an endeavor takes a great deal of funds, something she lacks. Because of this, she and her mother have begun inquiring about sponsorship and fundraising.

"First, we need to look at getting her the money to get her over there," Michelle Barrett said. "I have all of the information to register her, and we know she's eligible to play."

Brittany has also made it clear she has her sights on the 2012 Paralympics Games, though a year ago it was too soon to tell if such a goal was too lofty.

That really doesn't seem unrealistic anymore.

"I am working my hardest to get there," Brittany said. "I feel really good, like I am going to reach that goal."

Submit feedback, story ideas to communitysports@tampabay.com.

Fast facts

Brittany Barrett

Age: 17

School: Nature Coast Technical High, junior

Recent results: Last weekend, Brittany won the mixed doubles (one wheelchair/one able-body) event at the Brooksville Wheelchair Tournament.

She says: "Facing able-bodies helps me see what I do need to work on. You have do exercises to improve."

Contact: If interested in contributing to Brittany's goals, the family can be reached at
brittany.nctf@yahoo.com or (352) 835-2035.

Brittany Barrett hopes to make Paralympics in wheelchair tennis 05/07/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 7, 2009 8:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays vs. Blue Jays: Looking to make it 2 in a row

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 5:52: Cash said the off-day should have done the Rays good after losing 12 of their last 16 games and 20 of their last 30, with just one day off in that stretch:

    Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays.
  2. Commissioner Manfred to visit Trop Wednesday for Rays-Blue Jays

    Blogs

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is slated to be at the Trop on Wednesday.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is slated to be at the Trop on Wednesday.
  3. Bucs running back's gamble pays off for his mom

    Bucs

    TAMPA — When Peyton Barber decided to leave Auburn after his sophomore year, with only one season as a starting running back, it was a risky decision, one he hoped would let him help out his family back home in suburban Atlanta.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber (43) takes the field with an American flag before a preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  4. Armwood vs. Tampa Bay Tech teeming with Division I-A talent

    Footballpreps

    Armwood High School strong safety Caleb Sutherland (18) breaks a tackle to score a pick-six during the Spring Football Jamboree in Seffner, Fla. on Thursday, May 18, 2017.
  5. Bucs bring back long snapper Andrew DePaola to compete

    Bucs

    Just 12 days before the NFL makes its final cuts, the Bucs have added another position battle, signing back long snapper Andrew DePaola to compete with veteran Garrison Sanborn.

    Andrew DePaola is making an impressive recovery from the torn ACL he suffered in last year's season finale against Carolina in January.  [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]