Charleston Catholic's Mary Emma Maddox has taken the time this spring to smell the roses.
The senior had a scare last summer when she tore her Achilles' tendon during the Public Courts tournament and wasn't sure if she would be ready for her final prep season. After nearly five months off from tennis for rehabilitation, Maddox has reclaimed the No. 1 singles position and is thus far undefeated.
"I really missed it,'' said Maddox after a match Monday against St. Joseph at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Facility. "I kind of just took it for granted playing all the time.
"It's something I really want to be doing. [The injury] taught me a lot. I'm trying to enjoy everything I have. I used to just kind of go through the motions and play, but now I'm trying to enjoy every single match. It's good to be back.''
Maddox was facing Catholic teammate Claire Hamilton in the girls 18-and-under final during Public Courts in July when the injury struck. Maddox lost earlier in the finals of the women's open singles division.
"I took a step and my Achilles' snapped,'' said Maddox, who captured the Class AA-A No. 1 singles and doubles individual state championships last year in leading Catholic to its fourth straight team title.
"It hurt really bad. At the beginning [the doctors] were telling me I couldn't play and I would have to have surgery. I did a lot of physical therapy and it healed really fast. I was lucky. I didn't have surgery. It took awhile to get back.''
Maddox said she is getting stronger every day.
"I'm almost there,'' she said. "I'm still a work in progress. I still have to work on keeping my Achilles' strong because it's still a little bit unstable. I'm trying to build up my legs.''
Maddox said she is a much better player after the setback.
"Since I had to work out a lot more I've gotten a lot stronger and I have my head into it more,'' she said. "I try to think through strategies instead of going out and just playing. I watched a lot of tennis to try and figure out what I wanted to do to win crucial points. It helped a lot.''