Tennis Canada announced on Thursday that former Paralympian and 17-time national singles and doubles champion Sarah Hunter (Surrey, B.C.) has confirmed her retirement from wheelchair tennis following an illustrious 17-year career on the ITF circuit. As Canada’s most decorated wheelchair tennis athlete, Hunter holds a long list of accomplishments to her name.
“It’s been an amazing way to spend the last 17 years,” Hunter said. “The places I’ve been, people I’ve met, and experiences I’ve had are all just incredible. I never imagined I would have all these opportunities when I was first injured. It was a difficult decision to retire, but I feel both a combination of sadness and satisfaction. My body said it was time but my mind was not as sure. I will miss my many friends on the Tour and the adventures we got into. It has been both a lot of hard work and a lot of fun.”
Hunter held the spot of No. 1-ranked player in Canada for 13 years (2001-2013) in the quad division and reached a career-high ITF ranking of world No. 2 in singles in 2003, matching it in doubles two years later. She remains the highest-ranked Canadian ever in wheelchair tennis. She was a member of Canada’s National High Performance Training program for the entirety of her playing career, and won the Birmingham National Wheelchair Tennis Championships a record 17 times throughout her career.
Hunter also proudly represented Canada in international competition. At her Paralympic debut at the Beijing 2004 Games, she captured a fourth-place finish in doubles alongside the late Brian McPhate, which is the closest Canada has come to a Paralympic medal in the sport. Hunter also competed in BNP Paribas World Team Cup action, the wheelchair equivalent of Davis Cup and Fed competition, for 14 years.
“Sarah has had an incredible career highlighted by reaching the world No. 2 position, proudly wearing the Canadian jersey in countless global events, and capturing numerous international titles,” said Janet Petras, director of Wheelchair tennis. “She has been a stalwart member of Canada’s national high performance program since 2002, and an excellent role model. She will be missed as a competitor on the court but we look forward to seeing her excel and contribute in a coaching and development capacity for years to come.”
While Hunter’s playing days may have come to a close, she won’t be putting down the racquet entirely. Hunter is in the process of completing her Club Pro 1 coaching certification, with plans to complete the next two levels of certification over the next 18 months. Her ultimate goal is to one day coach the women’s or junior teams at World Team Cup competition.
“On behalf of Tennis Canada, we’d like to congratulate Sarah on a stellar career. She has achieved outstanding results on the tennis courts and has made Canada proud,” said Kai Schrameyer, national wheelchair coach, Tennis Canada. “I would like to especially thank Sarah for making herself available to proudly represent her country at so many international events over the years. It was a true pleasure to have been there and watch Sarah empty the tank every time she played for Team Canada.”
In addition to coaching, Hunter is looking forward to enjoying more time at home with her family. She will be honoured at Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Toronto this summer.