This month’s athlete feature is Lawton! Lawton was chosen to represent Special Pops Tennis at the USTA National Adaptive Championships in Florida. He has been playing tennis with SPT since 2017 and not only does he play as an athlete, but he also serves as a unified partner volunteer. When we asked Lawton what his favorite part of SPT he was said, “Seeing all of my friends that I have made over the years at tournaments and events. I also love the player parties at the events because it’s fun to hang out with everyone off the tennis courts.”

His favorite memory from SPT was traveling to Virginia for a tournament last February. This was his first time being invited to Virginia for the tournament, so he was really excited to play! During one of his matches, he tripped going for a short ball and injured his arm. It was swelling but he was too excited to play so he didn’t feel any pain and was able to finish out the match and continue to play the rest of the weekend.

Off the tennis courts you can find Lawton putting in hours at Mimi’s Good Food Restaurant. He has worked there for five years and is the “go-to man” to get things done. He also enjoys working with the film department at his school. He records the morning announcements, graduations, live streams concerts, and many other events for the school. In fact, one of Lawton’s goals is to attend a film school following his high school graduation.

We ask if he would recommend SPT to others and he said, “YES! We always need more volunteers and athletes plus it’s fun and great exercise!” Maybe Andy Roddick will come play with Lawton at our next event since that is the one person in the world, he would pick to be his partner. Lawton said that he picked Andy Roddick because they are close to the same height which would give them a huge advantage at the net.

Lawton’s parents are regular volunteers with SPT and said that they have loved watching Lawton get involved with Special Pops. We asked what their favorite part of SPT was and they said, “We like that the athletes are given an opportunity to participate in something that they may not typically have. We think just because our athletes are different that doesn’t mean that they can’t be good at tennis. SPT gives the athletes a chance to grow. It has also helped Lawton grow and make some of his best friends. We truly appreciate that Lawton is always accepted and happy at SPT events.”

Lawton’s parents have also seen him grow not only as an athlete in SPT but also as a leader and eager volunteer. He is always willing to jump in and help whenever asked. “SPT has been a game changer and we are so happy to be a part as parents and volunteers.”

Jim Hamm on Lawton, “Lawton is always giving his best effort in practice and in competition. His energetic personality is contagious to those around him. Other athletes look up to him as a positive influence. Lawton not only wants to play tennis; he is quick to volunteer at special events in activities that require physical labor.

His selfless spirit is central to his character.”