Special Olympics Florida

Special Olympics athlete earns two medals on national tennis stage

Alex Kushel, Special correspondent

Jonathan Doring won the gold medal in men’s high performance singles and the bronze in men’s doubles at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle. (photo/courtesy of Jonathan Doring)

 

Boynton Beach tennis player Jonathan Doring enjoyed another memorable moment on the big stage as he won the gold medal in high-performance men’s singles and shared the bronze in men’s doubles during the recent 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.

In the men’s singles championship final, Doring defeated Colorado’s Nathan Knepper 6-3, 3-6, 10-5. He smashed a forehand winner down the line for the decisive point.

 “It’s a different challenge each time,” Doring said. “It feels great to now have won state, world and national games.”

Doring, who participated in men’s doubles for the first time at the Special Olympics USA Games, teamed up with Miami’s Santiago Castro to capture the bronze.

“Jonathan was so determined and focused and he really enjoyed his experience,” said his mom, Kathy. “It was wonderful and very special for our family.”

Doring was born with Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic abnormality which causes a wide range of mental impairments.

At age 8, he signed up for Special Olympics and for nearly three decades has made his presence felt in several sports, including softball, bowling, golf, speed skating, and swimming. He also has been an advocate as a Special Olympics Global Messenger and member of the State Athlete Input Council.

Doring continues to take his game to the next level by training with Enrique Andrade, a tennis director and coach of the R&B Tennis Team in Wellington.

“I love working with Jonathan and really enjoy it,” Andrade said. “It’s special for me and also a challenge. He is a good athlete and we have worked on maximizing his technique.”

Doring has played at the Boynton Beach Tennis Center for the last eight years in the Thursday Men’s Singles League. He was recognized at the tennis center after the Special Olympics USA Games.

“It’s been an honor getting to know Jonathan and watching him progress throughout the time he’s played here,” said Laurie Fasalo, Tennis Center Facility Coordinator. “Jonathan has become a beloved member of our tennis family here. He’s an inspiration to me, my team and our league players.”

Back in June, Fasalo helped organize a tennis tournament fundraiser from which the proceeds went toward the travel expenses to Seattle for Doring and his team.

“It was a great way for the community to come together,” Fasalo said. “We all were cheering for him from Florida and were thrilled he brought home the gold and bronze medals. We couldn’t be more proud of his achievements.”

Doring, a graduate of Santaluces High School and Palm Beach State College, was honored at Boynton Beach City Hall for his performance in Seattle. The city’s water tower also lit up red, white and blue in support of him.

In 2011, Doring won the gold in men’s singles tennis at the World Games in Athens, Greece.

Then, in 2015, he was named the Special Olympics Florida Athlete of the Year.  Doring also earned the Presidential Champions Platinum Award for earning one million points in the President’s Challenge for Fitness.

In softball, he previously reached the Special Olympics USA Games with the Palm Beach County Demolition.

As a United States Tennis Association-certified official, Doring was selected to attend the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles and oversaw 19 matches.

“It has been an amazing journey,” Doring said. “I am grateful to Special Olympics and for all the support I have received.”