Congratulations to Mel Curry for receiving the 2012 Robert Marsteller Courage Award. The Robert Marsteller Courage Award is awarded to a tennis individual for courage in overcoming adversity. Mel Curry is a deserving recipient of the award.
Mel was an avid tennis player when a blood clot in her calf eventually resulted in amputation. She read about Rob Boyd, a wheelchair tennis player, in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, and asked Bob Calloway of the YMCA to introduce her. Mel loved the freedom and the speed a sport chair gave her to move around a tennis court. A group of doctors and friends at the Mary Washington Hospital where she worked pooled their funds to purchase a sport chair for Mel, and she has been playing tennis, playing in tournaments and teaching tennis ever since then.
Mel competed in the prestigious US Open Wheelchair Championships in St. Louis, MO and the Florida Open both of which are on the International Tennis Federation NEC Wheelchair Circuit. The circuit boasted over 160 tournaments globally with total prize money in excess of $1.5 million in 2011. Mel also competed locally and was the Men’s Division B champion in the newly inaugurated Midlothian Athletic Club Wheelchair Open in 2010. Mel played all four tournaments in the Truong Wheelchair Tennis Grand Prix Circuit in 2010, and her name is permanently engraved on the Truong Cup as the circuit champion in the B division. The Truong Grand Prix Circuit is the first grassroots wheelchair grand prix in the country and now includes five wheelchair tournaments in Baltimore, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Wilmington, NC and Williamsburg.
Mel volunteers tirelessly and played a wheelchair exhibition match at Byrd Park during the 2009 Davenport City Championships to kick off the RTA/Sportable Wheelchair Tennis Program. The program continues at Byrd Park, and Mel has joined the clinic many times as a guest instructor to share her enthusiasm and skills with the students. Mel has also taught at wheelchair tennis clinics in Fredericksburg, Ft. Belvoir and the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville. Mel currently co-chairs the USTA/Virginia wheelchair tennis committee.
Mel is an amazing person and feels that losing her leg turned out to be a blessing. Her big heart and infectious smile along with her courage makes Mel a worthy recipient of the award. Congratulations Mel!