High School Sports Xtra: Clintonville tennis player won’t let blindness keep her off court

High School Sports

(WFRV) – Athletes have a lot of different characteristics, but none more important than heart. Clintonville’s Shayna Wederath has plenty of that.

In a sport like tennis vision is often one that many would assume is needed. Wederath defies that assumption.

“People don’t like, their first reaction is like ‘what Shayna? Are you crazy?’ They’re like you can’t play tenn,s and I’m like ‘oh yeah, watch me,” said Shayna Wederath.

Wederath has faced plenty of obstacles that go beyond any sport, especially one that robbed her of her sight over time.

“I started losing my vision when I was in middle school. I have rod-cone dystrophy, so my retinas are deteriorating. So, over the year’s it’s gotten worse and worse,” said Wederath.

Wederath would spend her junior year at the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Janesville, Wis. where she learned how to live with her disability. At the same time she gained the confidence to defy the odds.

“They taught me that I can do anything that I set my mind too, and I was in a lot of different sports in that,” said Wederath.

Spend any time with Wederath and one of the first things that will shine through is her personality. Upbeat and full of confidence that anything is possible, including playing a sport that many would assume is impossible given her condition.

In the end anything is indeed possible, if you put your mind to it.

“When I decided to come back to Clintonville I really wanted to show my hometown that I am able to do sports, and anybody can try out for something,” said Wederath.

Friends on the tennis team urged Wederath to give the sport a try, and to go out for the team. So, Shayna decided to give it a shot.

“So I came to practice and I wasn’t expecting the school to be so open about it. Jesse, who is my coach, was just like ‘yeah, this is awesome,’ and ‘we can do whatever we can to make this accessible to you,” said Wederath.

Relying on other senses, Wederath was able to find her way on to the tennis court. Whether that be with the sounds of the game, or building muscle memory of the motions needed.

 “I have pretty good echo location, and I have really sensitive hearing. So, I use that to track the ball,” said Wederath. “Practicing so many times doing something your body learns how to do it. So, I practice for my serve. I practice for my toss. So, it’s all about muscle memory.”

Shayna took the court in her first varsity match against St. Mary Catholic this past week. At the end of the day it wasn’t about wins and losses, it was about something much more. Particualary the one thing many involved in any sport cherishes the most, the team.

“Sports is a really good community, and the disability community and the sports community shouldn’t be separate. Just the bond you get with a community is important, and a lot of children with disabilities, they don’t have that community,” said Wederath.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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