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Meet the Class of 2023

27 April 2023 By International Tennis Hall of Fame Staff
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© WHEELCHAIR TENNIS GREATS ESTHER VERGEER AND RICK DRANEY TO BE INDUCTED INTO INTERNATIONAL TENNIS HALL OF FAME

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 Eight-time Paralympic medalist Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands and Quad wheelchair tennis pioneer, American Rick Draney, have been elected to receive tennis’ ultimate honor – induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2023 was introduced on court Saturday at the ABN AMRO Open in Rotterdam, welcomed by Hall of Famer Monique Kalkman-van den Bosch, several current wheelchair tennis stars, and Dutch tennis fans. Vergeer currently serves as Tournament Director of the ABN AMRO Open’s men’s and women’s wheelchair events.

Vergeer and Draney will become the sixth and seventh wheelchair tennis inductees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, joining Brad Parks, Randy Snow, Chantal Vandierendonck, David Hall, and Kalkman-van den Bosch. Wheelchair tennis candidates are considered for election into the Hall of Fame every four years. The category recognizes candidates with a distinguished record of achievement at the highest international level. This year marks the first time two wheelchair candidates have been elected simultaneously.

In July, Vergeer and Draney will join an elite group of 262 inductees representing 27 nations as Hall of Famers. The ultimate honor in tennis – induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame – recognizes the sum of a career as being amongst the most accomplished an impactful in the history of tennis.

"I’m honored to welcome Esther Vergeer and Rick Draney to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Esther and Rick have made indelible marks on the sport of wheelchair tennis, and their impact transcends their tremendous achievements on court. Both are immensely deserving as members of the Class of 2023 and we look forward to their induction this summer in Newport."
-Kim Clijsters, Honorary President of ITHF and Class of 2017 Hall of Famer

MEET THE CLASS OF 2023

 Meet Class of 2023

ESTHER VERGEER

Esther Vergeer is one of the most decorated athletes in Dutch sport history as a 21-time singles Grand Slam champion, 13-time International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Champion and four-time Paralympic gold medalist in singles. For 668-uninterrupted weeks spanning from October 2000 to January 2013, she topped the world rankings, and retired with a singles winning streak of 470 victories. Vergeer’s career in doubles was equally impressive, as she won 23 Grand Slam titles and four Paralympic medals. In all, Vergeer captured 169 singles titles, 136 doubles titles, and posted a singles career winning percentage of 96 percent.

Since 2009, Vergeer has served as Tournament Director of the ABN AMRO Open’s wheelchair tennis tournament. In 2004, she launched the Esther Vergeer Foundation, which introduces children with disabilities in the Netherlands to the positive and lasting effects of sport.

"I am very honored that I will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and become part of history in the beautiful sport of tennis. Tennis has been a very big, and very important part of my life. It helped me grow into the person I am today, and I learned many lessons because I was able to play sports. I am very thankful and proud of the fact that I was successful on the tennis court. I wish to thank the many great people around me that supported me and believed in me."
-Esther Vergeer, Class of 2023 Inductee 

 

RICK DRANEY

A three-time ITF year-end world No. 1 in quad singles, Draney was instrumental in the growth and professionalism of the Quad Division of wheelchair tennis. During his career, which began in 1984, he captured 12 singles and six doubles titles at the Super Series level, prior to the advent of the Grand Slam level. Draney’s Super Series singles titles include five British Open titles, and seven titles at the US Open. For his career, Draney spent a total of 289 weeks in the singles top 10 of the Quad Division computerized rankings, including 118 weeks at No. 1, and an additional 302 weeks in the doubles top 10 (102 weeks at No. 1).

Draney served as the Tournament Committee Chairperson of the US Open USTA Wheelchair Tennis Championships for nine years, and in 2012 received the USTA’s Brad Parks Award, given in recognition of outstanding contribution to the sport of wheelchair tennis.

"I am overwhelmed by the honor of being inducted, and I don’t know that I will ever be able to fully comprehend the significance. I am very thankful and grateful for the love, support, and guidance of so many that influenced me and contributed to the countless opportunities and experiences I had.  It has been so enjoyable to reminisce and reflect upon all the memories of the people, the places, the challenges, and the successes that impacted my career on and off the court. This is awesome!"
-Rick Draney, Class of 2023 Inductee

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Celebrate with Esther and Rick this summer when they receive the ultimate honor in tennis, induction into the Tennis Hall of Fame over Enshrinement Weekend. 

2023 Enshrinement Weekend Experiences