- Associated Press - Saturday, April 23, 2016

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Megan Skadberg’s parents tried to limit her when she was younger.

The best advice they were given?

“Just let her figure it out,” said Erik, her father.

Skadberg’s left arm ends with a nub at the elbow.

So when Skadberg told her parents she wanted to go out for the McCutcheon High School tennis team as a sophomore last year, they told her to have at it.

She exceeded their expectations, and her own, when she made the varsity team. A season later, she’s ascended to No. 2 singles for the Mavericks in a sport where many skills often require the use of two hands.

“We don’t look at Megan as the one-armed girl, we think of Megan as the girl who gets every single tennis ball back,” McCutcheon coach Andrew Reich said.

There are obvious challenges - the biggest being getting her shoelaces tied.

And serving.

Before her coaches advised Skadberg to change her serving approach, she pinned the racquet against her stomach, tossed the ball and quickly retrieved the racquet in time to swat the descending ball.

Now she balances the ball on her racquet, then propels it into the air and serves, a tough task to keep the ball in a straight line but one Skadberg, like with everything else in life, adapted to quickly.

“Megan is an athlete, period,” Reich said. “Megan is the perfect person because she can pick up anything. She has that focus that she can go and do it.”

Skadberg is a soccer standout, earning third-team all-state honors last fall. With her physical limitation, soccer was a natural gravitation for her athletic skill set.

She’s also a cheerleader. She even got a thrill out of archery in eighth-grade gym class. Playing tennis, though, was something in the back of her mind for years.

In elementary school, Skadberg took lessons at the park. But she’d never competed before joining the team in spring 2015.

“I wanted to play a spring sport at school, and I decided to come out. It worked out fairly well,” Skadberg said.

Using her quick feet gained from years of soccer, Skadberg has become a “wall,” almost always able to chase down the ball and return it.

Her patient approach allows her to outlast opponents who at some point likely will make a mistake.

She’s come a long way in a short time.

Harrison No. 2 singles player Teja Kakani defeated Skadberg Thursday night. The two met last season, in the second match of Skadberg’s life. Kakani had little trouble putting away the inexperienced Skadberg then.

This time, despite a lopsided 6-1, 6-1 score, that wasn’t the case.

“She’s definitely gotten better. She got all the balls back,” Kakani said after the match. “I had to work for every single point.”

Because of her ability to keep the ball in play and extend points, Skadberg has earned the nickname “Lights” from her coach.

It started last season. All the players were off the court except Skadberg when the sky turned dark. The lights had to be turned on for her match. It happened again last Tuesday at Kokomo when she competed for nearly three hours.

“I don’t have the best hits. I do have quick feet from playing soccer all my life,” Skadberg said. “Just getting to the ball and getting it back is one of my strong points.”

Her rapid improvement as a sophomore drove her to take the sport more seriously. She took lessons in the summer and winter, determined to win more matches as a junior and be more competitive in the ones she loses.

And along the way, she knows there may be a few strange looks or a few questions asked.

That’s the easy part.

“People are curious. I am not ashamed in answering. I don’t take offense to it. I am used to answering questions,” Skadberg said. “I never let it disrupt me from anything really, besides serving differently.

“I can’t tie my shoes. I can’t think of anything else that I can’t do that other people do with two hands can. I always try to go the extra mile to do what everybody else can.”

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Source: (Lafayette) Journal & Courier, https://on.jconline.com/1XHKUvs

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Information from: Journal and Courier, https://www.jconline.com


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