Following an automobile collision in 1997, Sandy resident Marianne Page knew she would never walk again. She figured she would try to stay in shape by going to the gym when possible, and enjoying the outdoors as much as her wheelchair would allow.
So she plugged along for 10 years until her mother, an avid tennis player, handed her a pamphlet about a wheelchair tennis program in Salt Lake City in 2007.
"It was a little overwhelming because I didn't know what to expect," Page said.
She showed up and Dean and Trish Oba put her in a sports chair. To Page's delight, she found a calling.
"I had so much fun that night that I didn't even feel the blisters that were all over my hands and fingers," she said.
The Obas wondered if she'd return, but on Monday she showed up with bandages to cover the blisters.
"You could tell right away she was having fun, and when she came back, we knew we had her hooked," Dean Oba said.
The following summer, the Obas told her she was ready for a tournament. The former prep volleyball, soccer and softball player at Payson didn't think she was prepared, but with a little convincing she entered a national tournament in Florida.
In the first tennis tournament of her life, Page emerged victorious.
Later that summer she traveled to St. Louis for the U.S. Open Wheelchair tennis tournament, and came home as the singles and doubles champion. Page won another U.S. singles title in 2010.
"It was huge," Dean Alba said. "Having someone from our program do so well nationally was an inspiration to everyone she knew and worked with."
Page also competed this winter in a league at the Sports Mall in Holladay. Her team of wheelchair athletes competed against able-bodied athletes, usually giving them a good match-up.
Not content to rest on her accomplishments, Page jumped at the chance to volunteer with the Obas' wheelchair tennis program.
"When you work with kids who are in wheelchairs, it's just amazing to see their faces light up because they're free and having fun," Page said.
Her volunteerism has turned into a three-nights-a-week sharing endeavor.
"There have been so many people who have given to me," Page said. "If I can help just one person, or give them a love of the game or show them there is life after a disability, then I'm all in."
Page stays in the game
After a yearlong hiatus from competitive sports, Marianne Page won the first wheelchair tennis tournament she entered in 2009.
She won the U.S. Open wheelchair tennis tournament singles competition in 2009 and 2010.
Anyone interested in the wheelchair tennis program for youth and adults should contact the Utah Tennis Association, http://www.utahtennis.com, to inquire about participating.