The Infinite Possibilities of Human: The Path to Growth of a U.S. Tennis Champion


15 years old Maylee Phelps, a wheelchair tennis athlete, inspires many as won her first junior tennis doubles Grand Slam in her life.

Cynthia Lan, Photojournalist

On September 10, 2022, Maylee Phelps won her first junior tennis doubles Grand Slam in her life. The beautiful Maylee soon became known, and her experiences and stories touched the hearts of many (


Rebecca Phelps and Mike Phelps, an American couple from Portland, Oregon, adopted four Chinese children in addition to their three children. Rebecca and Mick brought their first adopted Chinese girl, Maylee Phelps, to the US  in December 2007, when Maylee Phelps was almost two- years old (


“I have spina bifida” Maylee explained in an interview with Oregon Health and Science Foundation, “that means my spinal cord didn’t form right. It means that I have to use a wheelchair and leg braces.” When talking about the surgeries, Maylee said that she feels anxious about them, but she mentioned, “All my doctors are great. They keep me playing wheelchair tennis and feeling good so I can keep doing the things I want to do.” After Phelps brought her back to America, they treated her carefully. According to Maylee’s adoptive parents, “Maylee’s had a lot of surgeries…we’ve lost count. It’s probably 20-plus” (


Maylee likes to do puzzles, play with her dog, or snuggle with him. She also likes sports. “Maylee’s world presently revolves around wheelchair tennis,” noted Rebecca Phelps. Maylee discovered wheelchair tennis when her parents encouraged her to find a sport. So about three years ago, she went to a tennis clinic and she loved it.


Maylee needs to spend more energy than thought to train and compete, but she made fantastic progress through her enthusiasm and perseverance when facing difficulties. Maylee spends at least five days a week practicing tennis and strength training, traveling to Salem for more than an hour each time, or under the guidance of her coaches. After much training and hard work, on September 10, 2022, she won the first championship in her life!


In fact, Maylee is very determined; she sets her goals and doesn’t stop until they are reached. She really went from “Tennis is fun” to “I have a bigger idea, I want to be a Paralympian.” Maylee also caught the attention of Nike. Together with several other disabled teenagers, she designed a special sneaker program for the NikeCourt Zoom Vapor Cage 4. Maylee designed a sneaker featuring a little girl in a wheelchair playing tennis and her initials, MP.

Seeing how Phelps perseveres through times of low self-esteem makes me realize that pushing through the difficult times makes you a stronger person.

— Gianna Gigliotti (12)

The Nike Affiliate website stated, “Maylee’s NikeCourt Zoom Vapor Cage 4 is loaded with personal touches, like hand-drawn stars and a cool marbled outsole featuring all her favorite colors. To help bring awareness to adaptive athletics, she included a spine graphic on the tongue as well as a blue spina bifida ribbon on the heel. Along the midsole, you’ll find a reminder to keep pushing no matter what life throws your way.” (


The sneakers cost $150 and were sold out as soon as they came out. Currently, the sneakers are speculated to sell for over $250 on eBay. Fans may not know that Maylee also designed a special logo on the sneaker to represent a deformed spine, hoping to draw attention to spinal diseases (


Maylee’s motto is: “Keep pushing: This quote helps me stay motivated on the court and in life, and I think it might help others too” (


Gianna Gigliotti (12) shares her admiration for Maylee, saying “As an athlete, Maylee Phelps’s positivity and motivation is truly inspiring. Often times I have been too hard on myself. However, seeing how Phelps perseveres through times of low self-esteem makes me realize that pushing through the difficult times makes you a stronger person.”


Maylee is unwilling to be mediocre, and her family supports her. She will constantly push her limits. With her victory, she has proved to the world that she can overcome her shortcomings.

This year, 15-year-old “aspiring Paralympian Maylee Phelps hopes her determination as a top junior wheelchair tennis player will inspire children of all abilities.” She want people to realize that, “anything is possible if you keep pushing” ( – US Open Tennis Championships).