Others might have trouble seeing it, but Taylor appreciates the similarities between tennis and boccia.
“There’s just the competitor part, knowing how to compete, knowing how to prepare,” Taylor said. “It’s the same core principles that you’ve got to have. You’ve got to have an insane work ethic.”
As Taylor pointed out boccia, like tennis, is skill-specific and technical. Strategy plays an important role in both sports, he said.
“When to defend, when to see a weakness in the opponent and strike,” he said. “How to find opponents’ weaknesses is probably the biggest. That was the biggest strength I had in my tennis game was I was going to find what the opponent hated. Then I was going to do it over and over and over.
“That was how I was able to win with the disability that I had. Boccia’s the same way. I’d say the difference in boccia is, there’s more people that (think) along those lines that I do … probably more than in tennis.”
Taylor, the director of operations for the Wichita State University men’s tennis team who also teaches sport management there, has found that the topspin lobs he once lofted on the tennis courts have had application in boccia.
“In my class, BC4, there’s a lot of playing in the air,” he said. “I need to lob up and over but still make it stop where I want it to. Lobs are something that, from the very beginning, just were natural to me.”
At the Parapan Ams, Taylor expects tough competition from certain countries.
“Brazil’s unreal, Colombia’s unreal,” he said. “Brazil, Colombia and Canada are the three that are really, really good. It’s going to be a small but extremely strong field.”
Could he find himself on the podium there?
“Potential? Sure,” Taylor said. “Likelihood? I don’t know.”
Unlike in tennis, where form usually prevails, upsets are not uncommon in high-level boccia. According to Taylor, the small number of international tournaments each year make it difficult to move up in the individual world rankings.
“There just aren’t that many tournaments,” Taylor said. “The parity in this sport, and the ability for crazy things to happen, is way high. In boccia, it happens all the time. Some lower-ranked guys may squeak into the knockout bracket.
“As a lower-ranked player, I like it. If I get good enough, it’s probably going to drive me nuts.”