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No Fall, No Problem

Feb. 5, 2014

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

The fact that Eduardo Segura was named the ACC Men’s Tennis Player of the Week a few days ago is impressive, yet moreso when considering preceding months.

He did not play – or practice – in the fall. At all.

The Georgia Tech junior won at doubles and singles last Saturday to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 4-2 upset of No. 17 South Carolina, and, really, that may not count as a surprise from a player coach Kenny Thorne calls the, “glue” of his team.

Nevermind that a small tear in his right Achilles tendon shut Segura down completely from mid-August to December.

He lifted weights. He swam. He wore a Franken-boot. He sat in a chair a few time while hitting balls. And he remained involved. “He didn’t have to come to practice every day, but he did, and he’d pick up balls, listen, engage,” Thorne said.

Yet “Eddie” Segura played no real tennis, none, until he went home to Spain for Holiday break, and, after having been clearly for action shortly before leaving Atlanta, he went at it as he knows how.

And here he is, 4-0 already this “spring” with doubles partner and fellow Spaniard Carlos Benito, and 3-1 in singles.

More to the point of the aforementioned reward, he and Benito helped the Yellow Jackets start well last Saturday on the way to their 4-2 upset of No. 17 South Carolina when he and his countryman beat the nation’s No. 24-ranked doubles team of Kyle Koch and Chip Cox 6-2.

Not long after that, Segura bagged a 6-4, 6-2 win over USC’s Andrew Adams to give the Jackets a 3-2 lead.

This finance major is looking, and feeling, good, and his time out of the sport appears to have helped him formulate a new mindset.

“I had to come to practice and watch them, and when they went to tournaments I stayed so I had nobody here. It was tough mentally, but I think that made me stronger,” Segura said. “It helped me to be positive. Being positive was the main thing.”

There is no telling about that Achilles tear.

Segura returned last summer to Spain, where his family is acclaimed and accomplished in the sport of tennis and he took a short time off. Then, he played – a lot – in about nine ATP Futures and Challengers tournaments. His right heel was bothering him much of the time, yet so many athletes are so accustomed to playing through various ailments that he pushed onward.

The problem grew worse.

“I had it before and didn’t think it was going to be bad,” he said. “I did not play the last week at home, and then came here and went to doctor. They took an MRI and saw the tear, and something on the bone that wasn’t supposed to be there.”

Segura did not have surgery. He did undergo Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections in September, when portions of his blood were withdrawn and re-introduced to his body to facilitate the healing of soft tissue.

Although the recovery time was drawn out longer than all parties had hoped, Segura is playing now even though he is not 100 percent back to business.

He is player 100 percent as well as ever since arriving at Tech.

“He’s a skilled guy, and he’s finding a comfort zone,” Thorne said.

Segura, a finance major on track to graduate in May, 2015, agrees 100 percent. He’s not only adjusted to his improved Achilles, but all of his environments. He had his best academic semester last fall, and that’s saying something because he made ACC Academic honor roll as both a freshman and sophomore.

Plus, he’s playing as well as ever.

“I know how this works, how everybody plays. I’m more used to college tennis,” he said. “I was born in like a country club in Spain where nobody talked and everybody was quiet, and you come here and everybody is yelling in between serves . . . it is much worse when you play away than it is here.

“After two years, you get used to it, all the noise. You just zone out and focus on your game. Now, I’m used to it, and I’m playing better.”

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