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NKY Tennis Player Headed to Tokyo for Paralympics

Emmy Kaiser doesn't wait for people to tell her what to do. 

A free spirit who follows the dictates of her own mind, Emmy is a very motivated person and a Paralympic tennis star.

Emmy is about to travel to Tokyo to take part in her third Paralympics, her first having been in London, and her second in Rio. 

Although she didn't medal in either of her first two Paralympic contests, she has been considered at one time the eleventh best Paralympic tennis player in the world, and was number one in the United States.

Emmy has spina-bifida, and she excels in the sport from a wheel chair.

When she was a child, she played several sports, but showed a little more interest in tennis and ballet. As an adult she has participated in scull racing at Winton Woods in Cincinnati. 

Emmy attended Blessed Sacrament School in Ft. Mitchell, and then went to St. Henry High School in Erlanger.  

She went to college and earned bachelor's and master's degree. Her graduate studies were in sport and exercise psychology.

Emmy has been impressed with athletes from time to time, but basically it is just one of the many thoughts that pass through her very active brain.

"When I was little, I was impressed with Esther Vergeer," Emmy said of a Dutch wheelchair tennis player who retired in 2013. "I mean, who wouldn't be, with a 470-game winning streak lasting ten years, and eight Paralympian medals. But I don't think I have a role model now."

In addition to the Paralympics, Emmy has been to the Parapan American Games in Toronto in 2015, where she was in the semifinals in doubles and singles, and Guadalajara in 2011, where she won gold in doubles and silver in singles. She has been a World Cup team member every year from 2009 through 2016.

Emmy has been to 29 countries.

"London was my first Paralympics, and it was wonderful," she said. "The entire experience, being in England, meeting other participants, being immersed in your sport with competition and people watching, I enjoyed it."

This year's Paralympics won't have crowds in the stand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, something Kaiser regrets because she sees the crowd as adding to the experience.

But, she will be busy without much time to relax. She is training in Alabama before leaving for the Paralympics which start August 24.

She has a stationary bike at home, and she has two trainers and a few hitting partners who work with her. 

She also works a few different jobs, even though she is a full-time pro athlete. She is a substitute teacher at St. Henry, and she coaches, both able-bodied and wheelchair tennis, at Blue Ash Recreation Center and the Cincinnati Tennis Foundation.

"Babalot Raquet Company supports me and provides me with tennis equipment," Emmy explained. "They are wonderful. But here in the United States, no one really pays attention to the Paralympics. You rarely see them on TV, like the regular Olympics. What Babalot doesn't give me, of course I have to pay for, like my travel, living expenses, and chair, and I have to work to pay for it."

When she has time off, Kaiser reads or visits her boyfriend via Skype since he lives in Austin, Texas. She also hopes to move there.

Emmy's ideal career goal would be to coach wheelchair tennis at a university.

Emmy likes to talk to younger kids, and she shares with them her life mantra, which is "Play the cards you are dealt."

"You can't pick the cards you are dealt, but you can choose how you play them," she explained. "I could've stayed in Cincinnati and worked at a bank. I could've been a teacher like my mom and my sister. But that's not the way I chose to play the hand."

-Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
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