Photo Credits – Erik Paul
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 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 with little to no medical issues.
Learning About Adaptive Sports
Jeff 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. While attending college he competed in the 2001 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.
Jeff has over 30 years experience of playing tennis on a prosthetic leg. These experiences have made him a valuable resource to those looking to grow the game for other amputees. During Bourns professional career he travelled around the world networking and forming partnerships with top tennis professionals, players, entities, and organizations. In the United States Bourns has been hired to instruct Adaptive Standing Tennis clinics and consult on mechanics, training techniques, and technologies available to achieve improved performance on the court. He is credited with assisting pioneer the growth and development of Adaptive Standing Tennis in the United States, helping bring the TAP WORLD TOUR to Houston, Texas in 2016.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) of Texas, in 2014, appointed Jeff Bourns to its Adaptive Tennis Committee. Bourns was brought aboard to offer his insight and experience to help assist the development and service the future growth of Amputee Tennis in Texas and abroad. He is the first adaptive athlete in this category with a lower extremity amputation who plays tennis ambulatory, instead of using a wheelchair, to serve on a USTA Tennis Committee. With assistance from USTA Texas, Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD), Scott Carr and Preston Pinto, Bourns created and ran an amputee tennis program for the City of Houston at West Gray Multi-Service Center. This was one of the first Amputee Tennis classes taught regularly in the United States. Bourns has also assisted setting up other cities and organizations with resources to create Amputee Tennis programs.
In the future Jeff hopes to continue his efforts and advocacy for the next generation. Breaking down barriers and making available opportunities to enable others to DREAM BIG!
“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
Adapted Mobility Tennis Instructor
@Babolat Hit Squad Ambassador
@usta_texas Adaptive Committee