Jeff Bourns

Jeff Bourns is an American amputee tennis player whom helped popularize and pioneer the growth and development of organized Adaptive Standing Tennis. He retired from competition with a World Rank of 4 and top ranked American in his classification in 2019.

Growing Up

Jeff Bourns was born in Parkersburg, WV in 1981. He was diagnosed at birth with a congenital birth defect to his right leg, missing his tibia bone. As a result, his leg was amputated when he was two years old. When Jeff was 7 years old his family relocated to Houston, Texas. Shortly after the move his leg was amputated once again, above the knee. A year later the family discovered Jeff had tethered spinal cord syndrome. A tumor attached to his spinal cord pulling down while he was trying to grow with age. At the time having the tumor removed was a very risky procedure to have done and Jeff was to be left with permanent neurological deficiencies and severe nerve damage as a result. The surgery was a success, however, Jeff developed spinal meningitis while recovering at his home. After fighting and surviving meningitis he led a very active life.

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Jeff with his father and mother 3 years old at Myrtle Beach

Learning About Adaptive Sports 

Bourns was continually engaged in sports and other active outdoor activities with his brothers, friends, mother and father. He played sports, went mountain biking, climbed trees, and enjoyed being as active as possible. At the same time, Jeff grew up in an era where organized Adaptive Sports for amputees were limited and not widely known.

After graduating High School he learned about organized Adaptive Sports for the first time.

Endeavor Games held at University of Central Oklahoma in 2001

While attending college he competed in the 2001 second annual Endeavor Games where for the first time in his life he met amputee peers his age he could relate with. For him this new found fellowship was a life changing experience, inspiring Jeff years later to begin mentoring and networking amputee youth, young adults, and their families together. These life experiences have given Jeff unique and invaluable knowledge and perspectives that he uses to this day.

Professionally

In 2013, Jeff Bourns was approached by Cindy Benzon, USTA Southeast Texas adaptive tennis coordinator, who proposed that the two organizations join forces to pioneer stand-up adaptive tennis. Together in 2014, with the help of others, they would start up an adaptive tennis class in Houston, TX. One of the first of its kind, Bourns taught tennis to individuals with challenged mobility wishing to play standing under traditional tennis rules.
In 2014 The United States Tennis Association (USTA) of Texas charged Bourns to help grow and develop Adaptive Tennis for Amputees in Texas and abroad. For Six Years he served on USTA Texas’ Adaptive and Community Development Committee’s sharing his knowledge and experience to grow the game. He is the first adaptive athlete in this category to serve a USTA Adaptive Tennis Committee. Bourns was the first American Adaptive Standing Tennis Player to travel Internationally and compete in Professional Adaptive Standing Tennis Tournaments around the World. These Tournaments are for individuals with challenged mobility, but who wish to play tennis Ambulatory, or standing, rather than using a Wheelchair. In 2016 he was Instrumental in bringing this tour to the United States which has been used as a spring board for future Tournaments, Clinics, and Programs in the USA. Bourns is a Babolat endorsed athlete.
He helped popularize and pioneer the growth and development of organized Adaptive Standing Tennis. He retired from competition in 2019 ranked number 4 in the world and top ranked American in his classification in 2019
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In a venture off of the court Jeff has a producer credit on the Documentary Film Tin Soldiers. The film is a look into the world of adaptive sports, where athletes with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, amputations or paralysis find new ways to enjoy the sports they love.

Inagural 2016 USA TAP OPEN Flyer. The event takes place in Houston, Texas allowing amputees and others with physical disabilities play tennis Standing without a wheelchair if they wish so.

In the future, he hopes to continue his efforts in adaptive tennis breaking down barriers for the next generation. Bourns aims to make opportunities that were not available to him growing up more accessible to others while also enabling them to dream BIG! Most importantly to enjoy the experience and having fun along the way!

Sport has a unique way of bringing people together. Tennis, as in life, is a game of adjustments. We all adapt to it differently, disability or not! Tennis is for Everyone”!Jeff Bourns

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It feels so great having this big ass hockey puck shaping device removed from my back. World of difference. I enjoy having my brain back most of all haha. That and sitting or laying down! I can relax again laying on my back! I guess the little things 🤷🏼‍♂️. But wow, what a 2 years

The best feeling in the world getting the chance to work with your child’s friends and peers! Had the opportunity to do so this week at clear lake high school! Shout out to the JROTC program and the other students I met. Y’all inspired me! A memorable week!! #tennis #pbandj

4

Got to dress all fancy for a special night out with my son and good friends to celebrate a great cause! Thanks for all you do Greg! The youth are our 🔑! #nightofsuperstars #pbandj

4

Some of these archaic rules are just non-sense…. why not Instead of fining Mr.Opelka for wearing a hat during trophy presentation, instead donate that 1,000.00 “fine” to his initiative in spinal cord research for a positive… @ReillyOpelka Congrats bro 🏆

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One thought on “Jeff Bourns

  1. Loved watching you play in Greensboro. It was a great experience for my daughter, and it was wonderful for me to watch her play in her first tournament, and to see the athletes compete so well. I hope this sport grows fast!

    Gaila’s mom

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