- April 02, 1957
- Place of Birth:
- Orange, California
- United States
- Induction Category:
- Year of Induction:
Brad Parks is the pioneering founder of wheelchair tennis worldwide. During an amateur freestyle skiing competition, he suffered a disabling injury when he was 18. He began experimenting with tennis as a method of therapy, and in 1976, wheelchair tennis was born.
The first wheelchair tennis tournaments were held in 1977 and interest in the sport grew quickly. This success motivated Parks to found the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis (NFWT) as the organizing body for the sport.As more athletes became involved, the Wheelchair Tennis Players Association (WTPA) was formed, giving players more of a say in the governance of tournaments, clinics and expansion of the game.
Parks started the first international wheelchair tennis event, the US Open, held in Irvine, California. He was the tournament chairman for 18 years. Today the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour is comprised of more than 157 tournaments in more than 40 countries, exceeding a total of $1,500,000 in prize money. In 1985, as a result of increased international presence at the US Open, the World Team Cup was started with five nations, not including women or quad players. Today this prestigious Fed Cup/Davis Cup-style team event has been contested by 52 different nations in its 25 year history, and boasts men, women, quads and junior competitions.
Parks is also credited with spreading the sport internationally by holding clinics throughout Europe, Asia and the Pacific. In 1988, the International Wheelchair Tennis Federation (IWTF) was formed to govern this growing international sport with Parks as the inaugural president. He served on the Management Committee for many years and was a driving force of international wheelchair tennis. In 1998, the IWTF was fully integrated into the International Tennis Federation, making it the first disabled sport to achieve such a union on the international level.
Today almost 100 countries offer wheelchair tennis programs, and the sport is played at all four Grand Slams.