The date 06.06.2018 is seared into Megan Hollander’s mind. She also has it tattooed on her right forearm.
It’s the day her mother Marion – her biggest supporter in her quest to qualify for the Paralympics — passed away.
“It’s a very big dream that we shared and I’m here because of her as well,” says Hollander, women’s singles SU5 contender at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. “So yeah, we started together and I’m finishing on my own, so it’s partly for her as well.”
Hollander’s journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics has been difficult. Her mother’s death devastated her; she also had a bout of Covid and an injury to her right ankle three months ago.
“The journey was rough, because of Covid of course, and it (Paralympics) took a year longer, and I took some time off to get back together because my head was just exploding with a lot of emotions and stuff.
“I came back stronger, but it took me a lot of strength to get back on court. I injured my ankle last May. So the last few months were like hell. I’m still glad I made it and I’m back on court so it’s very, very good to be here.”
Hollander does believe, however, that those tribulations have made her a stronger person, mentally and physically, on and off court.
“The experiences have made me a very strong person off court, but I can see it on court as well. Normally I’ve lost matches because of the mental issues and stuff. And that doesn’t bother me anymore and I’m way stronger in my head and I’m stronger in my body.
“I feel way better (with the ankle). It still hurts sometimes but it’s barely three months ago so it’s good that it’s already healing and that I can play again. We’ll see what happens on court when I’m playing. Maybe it will hurt, maybe it won’t. We know how to handle it and we know how to deal with it.”
Hollander is in Group C with China’s Yang Qiu Xia, Portugal’s Beatriz Monteiro and Uganda’s Ritah Asiimwe. She is 0-2 against Yang, 4-1 against Monteiro and 1-0 against Assimwe.
“I’m really happy with my group. I’ve competed against Monteiro a lot. I’ve only lost once. So there are definitely chances. There’s a big chance against Uganda as well. And yeah, China is way too strong. So we’ll see how that goes. But the top two from the group go through to the quarterfinals, so if I win against Portugal I can be already happy.”