Seymour’s Hunter Heckman has been sidelined with patellar tendonitis in his right knee for the last three months.
After a long time away from playing competitively on the courts, Heckman made his return last Friday at the Center Grove Summer Slam Tournament.
The incoming junior played five timed matches, meaning each match has a 30-minute time limit after just a five-minute warm-up, and whoever has the most games won within that time limit wins the match.
In some cases, you don’t even complete a full set within the parameters. That was the case in Heckman’s first match, where he said he was barely warmed up and it led to a sluggish start.
But Heckman battled back, and when the 30 minutes were up, he won his first match 4-3.
“This was like the first time I’ve gotten to actually play (in three months), so I was kind of nervous,” he said. “I won the first match, which kind of got me going.”
Heckman got rolling from there, winning his next three matches by scores of 10-1, 7-1 and 7-2.
He dropped his fifth and final match of the day, but it was a close loss, 4-5.
With the resume Heckman put together on Friday, winning four of his five matches, he finished first place overall for the tournament.
“Overall, it was a pretty fun and good experience,” Heckman said. “Just getting me ready for the season.”
Heckman thinks his ground strokes were really what kept him alive in that first match he played. As the tournament went on, his serves started to pick up.
If Heckman gets his first serve in, he believes it’s pretty tough for the opponent to return it.
Perhaps the best part for Heckman about Friday wasn’t the wins he picked up, but the fact that his right knee felt pretty good while he was playing.
“It felt a lot better,” Heckman said. “It was a little sore after, but after I did my stretches and iced it it felt better. It’s definitely getting a lot better and I’m excited about that.”
Going to Tipton Lakes Athletic Club in Columbus three days a week is a part of Heckman’s routine during the off-season. When he was sidelined for three months with the knee injury, Heckman wasn’t able to do that.
But now that it’s starting to heal, he’s back into his normal routine. During the days where Heckman isn’t at Tipton Lakes, he tries to go to the Seymour courts to work on his serves.
“It feels good,” Heckman said. “The first time I went back to Tipton I was just so happy. It didn’t really hurt like it used to, and I’m just happy knowing that I’m back and everything.”
Heckman played one singles toward the end of last season for the Owls, and all the training sessions and tournaments he has lined up for the rest of the summer are all to get ready for the season come the fall.
“Just trying to go out and get better everyday,” Heckman said. “I have to get better at each of type of serve and really work on my volley and net play. I’m really not used to going to the net in singles and I know that’s part of the strategy I need to use, so that’s what I really got to get better at.”