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9-Year-Old Tennis Star Triumphs With New Prosthetic Arm

Joanie Melady wins doubles tournament after receiving innovative Koalaa prosthetic enhancement.
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Joanie Melady serving with her Koalaa prosthetic. (KOALAA via SWNS)

A schoolgirl has won her first tennis doubles tournament after being gifted a brand new prosthetic arm to help her play.

Joanie Melady, 9, was given a new type of prosthetic arm enhancement which helped her gain victory at Halton Tennis Club in Aylesbury, England, earlier this month.

She was born with a congenital limb difference, meaning that her left arm did not fully develop before birth.

Hearing about Joanie’s love for tennis and her frustration when serving the ball, the team at the UK startup Koalaa set about engineering a solution.

After working closely with Joanie, Koalaa’s designers came up with a new tool that could be worn on the end of her limb and used for tossing the ball.

The invention, which has since been named after her, has already helped Joanie smash it on the court.

Joanie, from Chinnor, England, said: “I was really happy when Koalaa told me they were going to make a tool to help me throw the ball and that it was going to be named after me.

“I love playing tennis. My favorite player is Emma Raducanu and I hope I can play like her one day.”

While Joanie’s condition has never held her back, including on the tennis court, throwing up the ball to serve with her right arm, then quickly having to grab her racket, meant serving wasn’t easy.

She received her Koalaa soft prosthetic through an initiative called Project Limitless after the company reached out to her and her family.

The project aims to provide every child in the UK who needs one with a free prosthetic arm.

It is the result of a collaboration between the Douglas Bader Foundation and quadruple amputee and adventurer Alex Lewis.

Tennis tournament winner: Joanie on the court wearing her Koalaa prosthetic. (KOALAA via SWNS)

Over 500 children have been supported by the project to date – and Jodie’s father, Alan Melady, says the gift has had a special impact on his daughter.

Alan said: “Joanie is a huge tennis fan.

“She began playing in the garden around age five and started lessons when she was six. Now she plays twice a week at a local club.

“Throwing the ball into the air to serve was an issue though, and while she could do it, it was difficult and very frustrating for her.

“Her Koalaa prosthetic and the new Joanie tool have made such a difference, and to be part of the development process has been incredible.

“We can’t thank the Koalaa team enough.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld and Joseph Donald Gunderson

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