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Tragic accident didn’t destroy El Conquistador pro’s love of tennis

PATTY MACHELOR Citizen Staff Writer

Jennifer Fuchs’ life changed in 1988, although she scarcely remembers the moment it happened.

She was overseas, enjoying her fifth year as a professional tennis player at the Italian Open.

While she was out walking, a speeding motorist swept her off a curb. The accident caused severe damage to her right shoulder.

Fuchs underwent four operations in five years before learning in 1993 that she would never again compete at the professional level.

”It was very hard,” she said. ”I had been doing really well, but you get over things.”

Fuchs turned to teaching tennis to help her recovering from her lost career.

Now she’s head tennis pro at the Sheraton El Conquistador Resort, where she instructs eight hours a day.

Fuchs, who grew up on Long Island, N.Y., discovered tennis when she was 9.

”I figured out at 12 that I really liked it and when I got better at 14, I knew this was something I could do,” she said.

While Fuchs has fond memories of playing professionally, her goal now is to share her skills with others.

She has plans to teach tennis to handicapped children in the area, as well as those who visit the resort. She has worked with a local sports hot line that helps handicapped children with program placement.

Fuchs, 29, said her experience teaching wheelchair tennis when she was younger, coupled with her own rehabilitation trials, motivates her to reach out.

Sheraton clubhouse director Tong Giustina said Fuchs is as much a natural at teaching as she is at tennis.

”She’s very enthusiastic,” Giustina said. ”It’s apparent she loves the sport and is a teacher at heart.”

Anyone interested in contacting Fuchs about tennis for the handicapped can reach her at 544-1930.

PHOTO: MARY CHIND/Tucson Citizen

Jennifer Fuchs prepares a student for a tournament during a lesson at El Conquistador Country Club.

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