Seventeen-year-old Jason Furlong had a lot to smile about at a recent United States Tennis Association meeting. He proudly accepted the Jimmy Gantt Memorial Award, which recognizes a junior player who has succeeded despite a physical impairment or injury and shows great character and sportsmanship.
When Jason was just a kid, the Florida native was diagnosed with autism. He said he often asked, 'Why am I different?' but that didn't stop his determination to overcome the various obstacles he faced.
In elementary school, teachers thought Jason would never be able to write. But he did. At first, hitting a tennis ball seemed nearly impossible. But Jason worked hard throughout middle school to develop his talent, and today he trains at Synergy Tennis Academy.
The teen -- whose sports role model is the world's top tennis player Rafael Nadal -- has already won numerous tournaments and trophies, and strives to one day play tennis professionally. Way to go, Jason! Congrats from JSYK.