By Stephanie Mills
MIDLAND/ODESSA - Tennis is a challenging sport, even with the use of your legs. Some would say nearly impossible without. But not for Adam Lucio.
Adam said, "I've been wheelchair bound all my life. I was in a car accident when I was 5-month-old. I obviously love team sports rather than solitary sports where I play alone but it was different in that transition. Then again, I wasn't allowed on other team sports because of my chair. Either tennis or golf were my only options and I took tennis head on and it's been a ride from there."
Adam Lucio is a 25-year-old adaptive athlete, a wheelchair tennis pro, adaptive crossfitter, fitness coach and works at Heroes Fitness in Odessa. He started playing tennis in the 5th grade, played on his junior high team at Ector and then varsity tennis at OHS. He's been coaching tennis at Odessa College for four years now.
Stephanie asked, "What does tennis mean to you?"
Adam said, "Oh, it means the world. It shows that there is no barrier in life. That I can do anything. Tennis is a life-time long sport. You can play whether you're a five year old or you can play at 90."
When Adam started tennis in the 5th grade, he was in a wheelchair tennis expo and won a wheelchair tennis chair and earned lessons from Luis Valdez. Luis became Adam's tennis coach.
Luis said, "I grabbed Adam out there and put him on the gym floor with tennis balls and everything. Gave him a racket. You could tell just the excitement and enthusiasm of being chosen to be out there. That's what I remember from Adam from the very beginning. How motivated he was and enthused and really a good team player with everybody else, really a great example."
Some may ask how it's possible for Adam to be a tennis pro and play the game.
Adam said, "Exactly how you do. It's the same thing. I get two bounces is the only difference. It's the same size court, same heighth net, same size racket. Just got to be fast...There's a huge stereotype that wheelchair people are not able to do the same thing that able-bodied people are. I've seen people at the court and asked them to play, they kind of give me the hesitant, 'Ehhh, I'm not sure if I want to be held back like that.' But once I get going, hit a couple serves, they know I'm the real deal."
Tennis, other sports and exercise have been a type of therapy for Adam. He wants to share that blessing with others who may be struggling or need an avenue to express themselves. May 16th, they are hosting a West Texas Adaptive Open Tennis Tournament at the Bush Tennis Center.
Adam said, "I want to bring a whole bunch of people in from the area and expose them to tennis and professional wheelchair sports. There's a whole new world out there that they haven't discovered yet and I want them to be able to see that."
Luis said, "The whole Permian Basin is welcome to come out and see Adam in action and see the other wheelchair players who are coming out as well."
Andrew Amoyaw is a personal trainer and manager at Heroes Fitness in Odessa. Adam and Andrew have been friends for about four years.
Andrew said, "We started meeting up at OC playing basketball. I was always impressed with his work ethic and how resilient he was. He never liked anybody's help. He didn't want anyone to feel sorry for him. I remember the first time I tried to open the door for him and he just looked at me like I was crazy. He was like, 'bro, I've got my own door. You don't need to do that.'"
Adam has this message to those who need a push in the right direction and who may be facing physical or mental struggles, "Living with a disability is extremely hard. Anybody who's had to live with a situation like this knows. It's no reason to give up on life though. You can always enhance your quality of life by playing a sport like tennis and have fun in the meantime."