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    Senior Aimee McShan returns a serve during the Aug. 17 match against Brownwood. She has worked her way to No. 3 singles after tearing her ACL prior to her sophomore season. (Leader photo by Mike Williams)

McShan overcomes ACL tear, returns to tennis team

The 2017 fall tennis season was supposed to be a good one for then-sophomore Aimee McShan. She had worked her way up to the No. 2 singles spot for the Lady Blues and was primed to have a breakout season. “She was looking really good in practices and had worked her way up,” said tennis coach Matt Birdwell.

Then it all came undone.

When a season draws near, the team plays competitive matches against each other. They are called challenge matches. It was against then Lady Blues No. 1 singles player Sydney Widner, who was having injury issues as well, when things started to unravel.  “I served the ball and didn’t think she would get to it,” said McShan. Widner returned the serve. McShan returned with a high lob she (McShan) thought was hit too hard and would sail. The ball bounced inside and was answered by Widner. McShan expected Widner to slam the ball. However, she did not. “I stopped and leaned over for a shot that came slower, and I just felt a tear,” McShan said. She fell to the ground and tried to rate her pain. “I’ll rate my pain, say my ABC’s and try again,” said McShan. “I couldn’t even get to ‘D’ because of the pain.”

Her knee started to swell and the challenge match was over.

“I told Syd that we had to stop,” she said. McShan did not go to the doctor right away. “I played maybe three or four matches,” said McShan. With the help of a knee brace and “lots of ice and ibuprofen” McShan played against three or four teams. That is six to eight matches when you include that she played singles and doubles. In order to have surgery, the swelling would have to subside. It was decided by her family and doctors that she would have to be sidelined. She quit marching band practice a few weeks later to have surgery on a torn ACL.

Things began to change for McShan.

“It was really surreal,” she said. “I had a knee brace that was thigh to ankle. You can’t go to the matches and be with your people. You can’t play your sport.” She started rehab in Graham with Vickie Keller at Thrive! Physical Therapy. A place where McShan would eventually begin to work. The rehab process was expected to take a year. “We did a lot of balance exercises,” said McShan. “I ran through a lot of cones and did things that would be jarring on my leg.”McShan struggled through rehab at the time. Even learning to drive became a challenge. She was 15-years-old at the time and the car that she was learning to drive a stick shift. With her left leg injured she had to quit that as well. “I pretty much just gave up,” she said.

It was in this dark time of her life. She embraced the tennis team and marching band.

“I missed the relationships with everybody,” she said. “Just hearing about their matches pushed me.” It was not always easy. “Most days, I would just go to the band hall and work on whatever music I was doing. I just felt left out. I didn’t want to be stuck in a hallway. I got better at trombone, but it wasn’t tennis. I missed tennis. I love tennis.”McShan began playing tennis as a 12-year-old. Her brother played tennis and they would compete with each other. Although he brother quit the sport before graduating, she kept playing. It drove her competitive spirit. She worked hard at rehab. She wanted to come back. Just nine months later, she was cleared to play tennis again. She played her entire junior year with a brace, but the injury lingered in her mind.

It still does today.

For the rest of the story, see the Saturday, Aug. 24 edition of The Graham Leader.



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