Obsession with tennis pays off

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:05 AM ET

Lee Carter figures there are worse things that you can get obsessed with. For the last two years, the 29-year-old has been obsessed with wheelchair tennis.

That obsession is starting to be rewarded.

"After I got hurt I was pretty focussed to get my life back on track," said Carter, who reached the wheelchair men's open singles semifinals at the Les Internationaux Savaria International Tennis Federation tournament last weekend in Repentigny, Que. "Once I was introduced to sports, it has become my life now. I'm kind of obsessed with it, I guess.

"There are worse things to be obsessed with."

Despite losing to second-ranked Canadian Yan Mathieu of Quebec in the semifinals, Carter's performance caught the attention of Tennis Canada earning him selection to the national development team.

"I've been working really hard and I believe I can be the top player in Canada within a couple of years," said Carter, a bi-lateral amputee having lost his left leg above the knee and right leg below the knee in an industrial accident nine years ago. "Hopefully with my world ranking I can eventually qualify for the World Team Cup and Paralympics in Beijing (in 2008)."

Carter reached the semifinals by beating ninth-ranked Nissam Louis of Quebec in the first round and fifth-ranked Claude Brunet of Quebec in the quarter-finals. Carter and Quebec's Christoph Trachsel reached the doubles final, losing to Mathieu and singles champ Stefan Godou of France.

After beating a player ranked 67th in the world en route to winning the men's open singles consolation title at the Windsor Classic earlier this month in Windsor, Ont., Carter has seen his ITF ranking jump from 277 two weeks ago to 175.

Next up is the Pensacola Open, April 1-3 in Florida.

"I felt confident coming into (last weekend's tournament) so I felt good," said Carter, speaking from Montreal where he is attending a national training camp this weekend. "I'm hoping to carry that over to Florida."

Carter was introduced to tennis two years ago. While he'd played minor hockey and baseball before his accident, he had never played tennis before.

But he took to it immediately.

"I always thought he had potential," said Barry Bruce, who has coached Carter from the beginning. "I always thought from the first few times he started coming out that he had some natural ability and he had a lot of determination. He's a guy who would never be a quitter. You could see right off the bat that he had a good work ethic."

Bruce believes the best is yet to come.

"Down the road he's going to be a real force if he's not a force already," said Bruce. "It's remarkable considering that he's only been playing for a couple of years."


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