ITFWorld Winter 2020

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32 Winter 2020 ITF World Two years ago, Sam Schroder was fighting for his life in a hospital bed but is now a US Open champion with sights set on Paralympic glory. By Ross McLean FROM CANCER DIAGNOSIS On the very day that Dutchman Sam Schroder booked his airline ticket to England for the 2017 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in Loughborough, he received news that would turn his world upside down. He had only just celebrated his 18th birthday but Schroder was diagnosed with colon cancer – a destabilising and terrifying revelation for anyone, let alone a teenager who had already overcome considerable hurdles in his life. Schroder endured a draining five-week period of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and required the use of a feeding tube, before undergoing surgery in March 2018 to have his colon removed. Consequently, he has a permanent stoma. Remarkably, a matter of months later he was back on court and competing once more, while fast-forward to September of this year and not only did he make his Grand Slam debut in New York but was crowned US Open quad champion. It is a truly astonishing tale. "Even though I am the one who has lived it, I look back and it is an incredible story," Schroder, who is currently working his way through the Netflix series Modern Family, told ITFWorld. "When I was fighting for my life, I knew I just had to keep going. It was an experience which has made me appreciate life a lot more, allowed me to enjoy every moment and taught me to never give up. "After everything I have been through, I am so mentally strong, and 90 per cent of tennis during a match is being mentally strong as a player. During a match, I just keep fighting for every point, and that can be traced back to me fighting for my life." Schroder's cancer diagnosis is only half of his battle and, having been born with split hand/split foot syndrome, certainly not the first time he has required hospital treatment and been subject to risky medical procedures. The rare genetic birth defect manifests itself in limb abnormalities and missing digits which means Schroder has just one finger on either hand and only two toes on each of his feet. "It obviously makes it difficult to grab things and to walk," said Schroder. "With the condition comes a lot of other things. The structure of my bones and muscles is different to normal – my body is not made to walk. I'm not strong enough to do that. "Growing up, there was a lot of going to CLICK FOR VIDEO

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