16 Jan 2018

Rick Draney to receive Brad Parks Award

News Article

Photo: ITFRick Draney (USA)

Rick Draney of USA, a pioneer of wheelchair tennis’s quad division and former world No. 1 quad singles and quad doubles player, has been named as the recipient of the ITF’s Brad Parks Award for 2017.

The Brad Parks Award, named after the founding father of wheelchair tennis, is presented to an individual or organisation that has made a significant contribution to wheelchair tennis on an international basis.

Draney was instrumental in the development and promotion of the quad division in the 1980s and early 1990s. His contribution to the sport both in the USA and internationally is immeasurable.

With Draney having begun his own wheelchair tennis career in 1984, the quad division became an officially recognised classification in the USA by the late 1980s and among the many clinics and demonstrations Draney was involved in leading were clinics at the Stoke Mandeville Games in the early 1990s, which were the catalyst for the international growth of the quad division.

As an administrator and influencer, along with the likes of Brad Parks, Draney liaised with the USTA and the ITF to recognise the quad division and its development led to the introduction of official quad world rankings in 1998. In the same year a quad event was included in the World Team Cup for the first time.

As a player Draney won two World Team Cups whilst representing USA as well as most of the sport’s major titles, including at the US Open and British Open Super Series events. Whilst still playing Draney also took on the role of the US Open USTA Championships Super Series Tournament Director for the best part of a decade whilst the event was held in San Diego, one of its former homes.

From the advent of computerised quad division rankings Draney spent more than 120 weeks as quad singles world No. 1 between 1997 and February 2002.

Although his ranking did not qualify him to compete in the Paralympics in Athens in 2004, the year that quad singles and doubles events made their Paralympic debut, Draney’s influence burnt bright as fellow American David Wagner won singles silver and doubles gold medals in the quad events, having had his introduction to wheelchair tennis at a clinic organised by Draney in 1999.

Paying tribute to Draney’s contribution to wheelchair tennis, Brad Parks said:

“Rick was one of the first, maybe the first truly great champion in the quad division. In the mid-1980s to mid-1990s Rick won all the major tournaments in the quad division, including six US Open Super Series titles, and earned many year-end No.1 rankings. He then went on to serve as tournament chairman and director for the US Open from the late 1990s.

“During the time he played he was an example of how good a quad player could be at playing wheelchair tennis, setting an example for future champions like David Wagner and earning the respect from all who played the game.”