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High School Player Makes SC Tennis History

October 12, 2006 04:02 PM

Heather Turner seemed like any high school player prepping to play her first match; a little nervous, a little excited, and very eager. The fact that she was about to make history didn't even seem to cross her mind. In fact Heather was about to become the first South Carolina player to play in a high school match in the 'one up, one down' format. This means that one player is in a wheelchair and one is not.

Heather was born with spina bifida and was not expected to live past her first 24 hours. Her survival was the first of many surprises showing just how determined and tough she is. Heather first took up tennis in the summer of 2005 at a tennis clinic. Bluffton High School's Head Tennis Coach Bob Brown was conducting the clinic, and after seeing Heather's enthusiasm helped set her up with lessons and assisted her in finding another wheelchair player to help mentor her. When Brown approached Cheryl Turner, Heather's mother, about setting up a high school match, Cheryl was initially sceptical. However, Brown's sincerity soon won her over and they began to plan the match. Heather joined the JV squad and began practicing and making friends. Soon the match was set, coincidentally it was against rival Hilton Head High.

The lead up to the match proved to be fairly smooth other than finding equipment for Heather to play in. Fortunately the Professional Tennis Registry stepped in, and loaned Heather a sports chair for the match. Heather's mom says that she has never seen Heather as passionate about anything as she is about tennis. Cheryl says that she "knew it would be good for her." Cheryl was also touched that so many people came together to help the match happen. From PTR, to the High School league, to Coach Brown, many people assisted Heather's journey to the courts.

With her first match over, Heather isn't mindful of her place in history, or any challenges that may await her in the future. She says she "can't wait" for her next match, and we all wish her luck in tennis and in the future.

Heather Turner