Wheelchair Tennis Legend
The life of Thomas Randall ("Randy") Snow exemplified inclusion, especially when it came to sports. A champion wheelchair tennis player, he believed that tennis transcended ability and diversity and committed himself to promoting tennis to all—especially those who might not otherwise be embraced as a result of their being physically challenged. He made sure to include everyone, and everyone he came across responded to his encouragement and enthusiasm and his vision of their potential.
In addition to his being an influential leader in developing the sport of wheelchair tennis and a tireless advocate for improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, Snow is only the second wheelchair tennis player in history to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He entered the Hall of Fame this year, joining Brad Parks, the pioneering founder of the sport, who was inducted two years earlier.
As a teenager, Snow was a state-ranked tennis player in Texas. He had aspirations of being a varsity athlete in tennis at the University of Texas. But during the summer of 1975, when he was 16 and working on a farm, a half-ton bale of hay dislodged from his loader and crushed his spinal cord, leaving him a paraplegic.
Utilizing a wheelchair for mobility, Snow continued to dream and push forward while readjusting his athletic goals. He committed himself to wheelchair sports—and to inspiring athletes worldwide—and became a dominant international champion, competing in more than 25 countries. A three-time Paralympic medalist, he won 22 major tournament titles during his career and achieved world rankings of No. 2 in singles and No. 1 in doubles. He was named ITF Wheelchair Tennis Player of the Year in 1991 and USA Wheelchair Athlete of the Year in 2000, and was a member of the U.S. Men’s World Cup team during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is the only Olympic or Paralympic athlete to medal in three different sports (track, tennis and basketball) in one Olympic Games (1984) and two Paralympic Games (1992 and 1996). In 2004, he became the first Paralympian to be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was accorded the Paralympic Order of Honor.
In addition to his achievements on the tennis court, Snow set U.S. records in wheelchair track in the early to mid-1980s in the 200m, 400m, 1500m and 5000m, and played on the U.S. National Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team in the 1980s and 1990s.
Snow’s influence on wheelchair tennis far exceeded his success as a champion player. He traveled around the world to teach the game, help standardize training programs, develop the USPTA certification for wheelchair tennis and introduce the sport to others. From 1987 to 2005, he initiated and developed the curriculum and directed the Quickie/Randy Snow Wheelchair Tennis Camps, held in more than two dozen states across the U.S. In 1994, he co-authored the first major wheelchair tennis instruction book, Wheelchair Tennis: Myth to Reality, with Bal Moore, and in 1995 he authored 102 Wheelchair Tennis Drills.
Snow passed away on November 19, 2009, at the age of 50, while volunteering at a wheelchair tennis camp in El Salvador.