Martyn Dunn could have never envisioned the journey his life would take from a teenage football lover and aspiring carpenter to a wheelchair tennis Paralympian.
The past six years have been a rollercoaster of emotions and challenges since he suffered sever injuries in a motorbike accident in 2015, but rediscovering his love for tennis is a passion that fuels him each day.
Dunn, 28, played tennis from ages 7-13, but when a clash in competitions arose the time came to choose one, it was football that prevailed.
He played football through his teenage years and became an apprentice carpenter as he moved into the workforce.
However, that all changed in November, 2015. A motorcycle accident left Dunn with severe spinal damage.
The life-changing event left him with a back broken in four places, shattered shoulder and broken ribs.
Dunn said it was a difficult to get his head around how his life was going to change following that moment.
"I was a little bit lost with what I was going to do," Dunn told The First Serve.
"It definitely took it's time. A lot of that time of my life I don't remember, I think when you go through a lot of trauma, your body tries to block it out."
During his rehabilitation at the Royal Talbot in Melbourne, wheelchair tennis was an option on the schedule and Dunn took to the task, initially just for "something to do".
Dunn's committment to his tennis gained momentum and gave him purpose through a challenging period of his life.
In time, his training days grew from one day a week to five, he joined the national academy and began playing national and international events before culminating in what is the highlight of his career to date, representing Australia at the Paralympics. "That's the pinnacle of wheelchair tennis."
Dunn's journey has also seen a relationship with wheelchair tennis great and 15-time grand slam winner Dylan Alcott, who will play his final Australian Open in January. Alcott began as an inspiration for Dunn and is now someone who he trains with and calls a mate.
Dunn said what Alcott has done for the sport was amazing, gaining such recognition in the public and growing the sport through his performances and media work.
"I train with him three or four days a week, we hang out, I was there when he won the Gold medal, that was a great experience.
"Overseas, you're looked at as an athlete not as a disabled athlete. I feel we're heading in that direction, we train and work just as hard as able-bodied athletes. The recognition is starting to come off the back of what Dylan has done."
The Geelong-born Dunn is part of the Paralympics Australia and Barwon Sports Academy partnership which is identifying athletes in need of support, aiming to build a community for wheelchair athletes in the region. The BSA region currently has five members, helping them with anything from nutrition, travel, psychology - all with the aim of seeing them reach their full potential.
"We can connect with each other if we need anything ... they're just trying to create a culture and unity where we're not felt left out, it's great."
Dunn is currently ranked just outside the top 100 and is hopeful his debut Australian Open is not far away.
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