WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita teen has wheeled his way to greatness, clinching the number one spot in America.
Casey Ratzlaff, 18, is strong, tenacious and most of all humble.
“It still hasn’t sunk in. It’s wild,” said Casey Ratzlaff.
The Maize High School graduate doesn’t say much, but on the tennis court, his athleticism speaks for itself.
“I don’t feel very different from other people. I know I am, but I don’t feel that way,” Ratzlaff said.
Ratzlaff was born with Spina Bifida.
“I have used a walker. I have used crutches,” he said.
Ratzlaff transitioned into a wheelchair in high school. That’s also when his love for wheelchair tennis blossomed.
“I think it’s been about 4, 5 years I’ve been competing, now,” he said.
In those competition years, Ratzlaff has traveled to Tokyo, Ecuador, and even South Africa. Most recently, he was named the number one male player in the United States.
“I wasn’t even in the top 100 a year and a half ago and to think I’m the highest ranked male in the country is just insane for me, honestly,” Ratzlaff said.
Ratzlaff’s coach, Jeff Clark, said he’s not shocked. The pair has been training together since 2011. Clark said he’s seen Ratzlaff grow into the man and player he is today.
“I’ve been getting better and better since and it’s really introduced me to some crazy opportunities in my life and I’ve gone through some awesome experiences,” Ratzlaff said.
Ratzlaff now reminds people to dream big.
“Just go out and fail because then you know. You don’t know what you could be good at in life and where it could take you,” he said.
Ratzlaff is ranked 35th in the world. He will compete next week in Michigan before heading to Vancouver for another tournament. He said his goal is to go to the Paralympics in 2020.