Tournament fosters friendship
By Bradley Taylor
August 8, 2013 in Sports Features
Will Boe-Wiegaard, a professional tennis player and Connecticut native, has always been impressed with the Purnell-Thomas Memorial Tournament. However, Boe-Wiegaard left last year’s week-long tournament at Salisbury University with more than an admiration for the competition.
Boe-Wiegaard met Adah Marie Guy, a tetraplegic and Allen, Md., native. Their initial meeting has blossomed into a unique and inspirational friendship that has remained strong despite Boe-Wiegaard’s travels.
“Players do not interact with fans very often at these types of tournaments and meeting a tetraplegic is even rarer,” said Boe-Wiegaard, a 2002 graduate of Joel Barlow High. “Adah was very friendly right off the bat and I was extremely moved by her support. Her charisma was infectious and our friendship began.”
Guy got involved in the 2012 Purnell-Thomas Memorial Tournament by helping her aunt, tournament coordinator Michele Thomas. Guy was responsible for player research and building the competition database for the tournament. Due to her research, Guy was able to speak with Boe-Wiegaard when he arrived for check-in.
“Thinking about my first encounter with Will always makes me smile,” said Guy. “After exchanging pleasantries, I started mentioning facts about his background and career. I do not know where those guts came from but I immediately felt comfortable around him.”
During the winter of 1993, Guy was involved in a car accident at the age of eight that left her paralyzed from the neck down. Given no more than a year to live, Guy has exceeded her doctor’s original prognosis by 20 years. Despite her physical limitations, Guy greets everyone she meets with an infectious blend of cheerfulness and optimism.
“I cherish my friendship with Adah because she is so happy and positive,” said Boe-Wiegaard. “She is super supportive of my career and she keeps my hopes up after bad matches. Her story is inspiring and she is full of so many dreams and aspirations. Her condition may limit her physically but her sharp mind allows her to live an extraordinary life.”
Guy, 28, is a freelance paralegal and journalist. She graduated from James M. Bennett High School in 2002 and holds bachelor degrees from University of Maryland University College and Breyer State University. Recently, she earned a master’s degree in law from Champlain College.
Guy previously worked as a columnist for The Daily Times and currently designs publications for the Allen Asbury United Methodist Church. She is also a published author and illustrator of children’s books who has not allowed a spinal cord injury 20 years ago to limit her immense abilities.
Boe-Wiegaard was so impressed by Guy’s story during their initial meeting that he gave her his contact information. One year later, Guy is Boe-Wiegaard’s most passionate fan. She follows his playing activity online and regularly sends Boe-Wiegaard supportive messages via Facebook.
“Will and I correspond at least once a week,” said Guy. “We share the same sense of humor and it is easy to talk to him about random topics. He keeps me updated on his travels and sends me photos from exotic locations. I am excited to see his passport when he returns to America.”
Impressed with her writing abilities, Boe-Wiegaard encouraged Guy to pen a book about her inspirational life. Guy has finished writing the book and regularly sends Boe-Wiegaard chapters to read. Guy is hoping to get the book edited and published within the next year.
“Will inspired me to begin writing a book about my life and I am forever grateful for that,” said Guy. “It is my story, but his book. He makes me feel special and motivates me to make the book better. I could not finish the book without him.”
Guy has become an avid tennis fan since meeting Boe-Wiegaard last summer. She follows international play online and watches Grand Slam tournaments on television. Prior to her accident, Guy played tennis with her grandmother and even helped with concessions at the Purnell-Thomas Memorial Tournament.
“I really respect Will’s life and career,” said Guy. “He is living the life I wish I could. He travels the world, lives out of a bag and sees places on this planet that I can only dream of. I often find his location on the map and try to live vicariously through him.”
Besides tennis, Boe-Wiegaard and Guy share a passion for the popular American rock band O.A.R. According to Guy, Boe-Wiegaard has made her a “diehard O.A.R. fan” and her life revolves around the band’s music. Boe-Wiegaard has invited Guy to attend an O.A.R. concert the next time he is in America.
“Will and I have only known each other for less than a year and I can honestly say that he is my best friend,” concluded Guy. “Despite his busy and stressful schedule, he always makes time to communicate with me in any way possible. My life would be much less enjoyable and exciting without Will’s friendship. Being miles apart is irrelevant to me.”
Boe-Wiegaard played at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine and was a five-time All-American (2002-2006). He finished his collegiate career as the top ranked player in the nation after winning the 2006 NCAA Division III singles title.
Boe-Wiegaard is currently competing overseas and is the No. 1,104th- ranked player in the world. While he will not be participating in this year’s Purnell-Thomas Memorial Tournament, Boe-Wiegaard says the annual event played at Salisbury University’s 12 outdoor courts outshines much bigger tournaments.
“I have played in the Purnell-Thomas tournament three times over the last four years and I always walk away impressed,” said Boe-Wiegaard. “The competition is strong and the hospitality of the workers is astonishing. Fans are very supportive throughout the tournament and the food is top notch.”
The 2013 Purnell-Thomas Memorial Tournament will be held Aug. 13-17. The tournament is a tribute to Chris Thomas and Jack Purnell, two local tennis enthusiasts who lost their battles with cancer. All matches are free to watch and the money raised through the tournament benefits Coastal Hospice in Salisbury.
For more information on the tournament, visit http://www.purnell-thomas.org.