Volume 92, Issue 35

Thursday, November 5, 1998

a little bit louder now


Comeback kid is smashing for tennis team

©Randy Quan/Gazette

THE ARM IS HOLDING UP JUST FINE. Brendan Collins made a triumphant return from surgery to help the men's tennis team capture the provincial title.

By Anthony Thomas

Gazette Staff

When Brendan Collins, a student in his first year of the honours business administration program at Western and a member of the Mustang tennis team, traded in his diapers nearly 20 years ago, his parents put a tennis racquet in his hands.

Collins started playing at Thames Park when he was five years old. At nine he won a scholarship to train at the All-Canadian Academy and played in competitive tournaments until he was 14. Collins ranked among the top 15 juniors in Ontario.

While attending South Secondary School in London, he decided to only play tennis for his high school, ending all outside competition. He had a successful tennis career, while also playing basketball and football and acting as student council president.

Collins felt the effect of quitting competitive tournaments and training might have hurt his game, but opened up a number of other doors. "I would definitely be a better player, but I would have driven myself crazy. It allowed me to play more sports than just tennis."

Collins made the team in his first year but due to over-training in the summer burnt-out and by the end of tryouts could barely hold onto his racquet.

After seeking the opinions of a number of doctors he was eventually diagnosed with pronator syndrome, from which a nerve had became impinged, causing him to lose feeling in his arm.

Collins had to undergo median nerve decompression surgery. The injury only affected his tennis game, but the surgery put at risk complete functionability in his arm. He went ahead with the surgery in June after his first year. The surgery was successful but he was unable to practice in the summer, putting to rest his second year as well.

Collins played on the team in his third and fourth years but was primarily a doubles specialist and the team was unable to retain the team championship they won while he was hurt.

Collins, entering his fifth year, had his best season, going 6-2. He played in the no. 2 spot and won against Toronto in the semifinals of the team championships. He moved up to two from no. 5 earlier in the season.

"My goal throughout rehabilitation was to contribute to a winning team and I can honestly say if I never pick up a racquet again, I really feel like I have accomplished something in my tennis career," Collins said.

Unfortunately for Collins, at the individual championships in Laurier this past weekend, he ran into the tournament's eventual champion – Waterloo's Dave Marken.

Western coach Anthony Glavanic was happy to see Collins succeed.

"Brendan always showed up to practice and was always there for us even when he wasn't in the line-up. It's nice to see a guy improve at an older age," he said. "He is a gunslinger who raises his game against stronger players."

Teammate Jamie Dunnett said he believes Collins is a real asset to the team.

"Brendan is a consistent middleman who is always producing. He is really important to the team. If he improved his volleys he could be a solid no. 2 player."

For Collins, keeping his head in the game is the biggest challenge.

"Maintaining focus is my biggest challenge. That was my biggest improvement this year. Most often, I walked on the court and played well," Collins said. "For next year I want continue to work on my focus and consistency."

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998