Being the youngest child in the family brings with it a lot of advantages as well as some disadvantages.
With three older sisters as cheerleaders, and a brother who played on the high school football team, Desert Hills’ Madz Eames seemed destined to step in and fill the shoes left by her older sisters.
But that all changed when she was introduced to tennis, a sport that has since changed her life.
“I started tennis when I was just 8 years old,” Eames said. “I had a babysitter, of all people, who played, and that was what really got me into the sport.”
From that point on, it was all tennis.
“I quit gymnastics, soccer and basketball and started focusing just on tennis,” Eames said.
For the past eight years, Eames played competitively, traveling throughout the country and making a name for herself in big-time tournaments.
“I’ve really grown to love tennis. It also helps that I’m actually pretty good at it,” she said laughing.
When asked who her favorite tennis player is, the always joyful Eames didn’t hesitate one bit when she said Rafael Nadal. While both players have a similar style of play, Eames didn’t hold back when she noted that it might be because of his good looks.
“He’s my all-time favorite,” she said. “It also helps that he’s left-handed too.”
With the help from her coaches and constant drive, Eames turned into one of the most dominant tennis players in the state.
“She’s been so fun to watch over the years. She hits the crap out of the ball and is very aggressive,” Desert Hills tennis coach Dow Christenson said. “That’s what makes it so fun to watch.”
But her rise to greatness hasn’t been easy, as injuries have taken a toll on her body over the course of her high school career.
Unfortunately, this year was no different.
While it’s still unknown at the moment, early signs point to a tear in her rotator cuff.
Eames is still undergoing tests, but she has been able to play thanks to a cortisone shot that has relieved the pain and discomfort.
“It’s unfortunate because I’ve dealt with injuries for the past four years now,” Eames said. “It’s just stressful because I thought I was going to be injury free this year. I took a couple months off to work on my shoulder and it felt great coming into the season. Hopefully the shots will be enough to let me play like I know how to play.”
The cortisone shot lasts anywhere from 3-6 weeks, and so far, Eames has played some of the best tennis of her life.
“I’ve been pain free,” she said. “Since my shot, I’ve been playing really well which is a big relief knowing that it’s my last year in high school.”
Coming into last week’s first singles match against Snow Canyon’s Francesca Eklund, Eames was undefeated, despite her injury, but ended up losing to Eklund in a hard fought game.
“We’ve been rivals for a long time now, and used to play on the same doubles team back in the day,” Eames said. “She’s a great player and look forward to seeing what we can both do at state this year.”
With four-time first singles champion Lacy Hancock recently graduated, a new champion will be crowned this fall at Liberty Park.
Eames, who finished second at state last year, has been practicing with Hancock and is determined to go out on top this year.
“It’s been awesome being able to go up against her. We’re both good friends, but it’s nice knowing that I won’t have to go up against her again this year,” she said.
This Friday and Saturday, Eames finishes the regular season with the Region 9 tournament before heading to Salt Lake City for the state tournament the following week.
“We love Madz,” Christenson said. “She hasn’t been healthy all four years, but she keeps battling and it’s a testament to how much she loves the game. She’s determined, a great leader and I can’t wait to see what she does at state.”
Follow Justin Giles [email protected] or onFacebookat http://www.facebook.com/JustinGilesSportsWriter