LONDON – The American women fell short in their quests for wheelchair tennis singles medals Monday at Eton Manor in Olympic Park. Emmy Kaiser (Ft. Mitchell, Ky.) and Mackenzie Soldan (Louisville, Ky.) each lost 2-0 in the round of 16 playoffs against ranked players from Great Britain and Netherlands, ending their singles hopes at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Soldan, who qualified for the Paralympic Games with a gold medal at the 2011 Parapan American Games, has still enjoyed her Games experience. “It’s pretty cool,” she said. “All the people here and the fact that it’s the Paralympics – that’s a big deal. It’s just an honor to be here.”
The Parapan Am Games gave Soldan major competition experience and drew comparisons between that event and the competition in London.
“They’re kind of similar," she said. "There was a large crowd there as well. I feel like there, there was less pressure and here maybe it’s the pressure I put on myself. I didn’t put any pressure on myself there, because I didn’t expect to win. That could have been the key to my success.”
This is Soldan’s first Paralympic Games, and she went on to say that the event was bigger and better than she expected it to be. "I expected it to be big but not this big,” she said. “The Londoners here really seem to get it; that we are athletes, not just disabled athletes. I think that part is really cool and I didn’t expect as much support as we’ve gotten.”
At 20, Soldan has been playing tennis for most of her life and sees a long future in the sport. After her singles match, she said she is already looking forward to where her career will take her next. “I definitely see myself being back to the Paralympics in 2016, 2020, and as long as I can go.”
Soldan joins Kaiser for a doubles match later on Monday, where they will face Germany.
“Doubles is more about communication and being on the same wavelength, and keeping up the energy throughout the whole match,” Soldan said. “I’m excited for the match. I’ll be ready.”