HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. – On June 5, Heather Mahoney came home and told her mom that her stomach wasn’t feeling very well. Her mom suggested yogurt to calm her stomach down, but that caused a sudden sharp pain and she ran to her room, clutching her stomach.
Within a few hours, she was recovering in a hospital bed in Santa Rosa, Calif., from an appendectomy.
Three weeks later, Heather won the under-10 doubles racquetball championship at the 2014 Wilson Junior Olympic Championships at the Highlands Ranch Recreation Center, in a suburb south of Denver. The second-ranked under-10 player in the nation is still playing in the round robin tournament of the under-10 singles and is in a tie for first with her doubles partner.
“When I was waiting for the surgery, my dad and sister came to visit me,” Heather said. “The first thing I asked was ‘Daddy, will I be able to go to Denver?’”
Heather is surprising herself at how well she is doing, considering she couldn't laugh, sneeze or cough without crying three weeks ago. The surgery meant she missed her last day of school on June 6, and she was told to take it easy during the first week after the surgery.
“I was really, really nervous,” Heather said. “I've never had surgery, and I had no idea what it would feel like.”
“One thing I noticed when I got to the hospital right before pre-op was how good of spirits Heather was in,” said her father, John. “It appeared she wasn't nervous at all. She was full of smiles. We assured her that everything was going to be fine.”
After 40 minutes in surgery, Heather was on the way to her hospital room for the night. Her mother, Melodese, spent the night with her.
Heather had two-and-a-half weeks from her discharge from the hospital to their departure for her third Junior Olympics appearance. While resting, she watched racquetball on TV. When she got back to the court, she wasn't able to do drills that required her to reach over her head. Now at the tournament, she says she still a little sore sometimes when playing, but it isn't limiting her ability to move through the brackets.
Heather won the under-10 doubles championship with a cumulative score 60-16 in her two matches. She will play for the under-10 mixed doubles national championship at 1:30 p.m., MDT, on Saturday, and has matches in the under-10 singles tournament on Saturday at 4:20 p.m., MDT, and on Sunday at 2 p.m., MDT.
USA Racquetball, founded in 1969, is recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee as the National Governing Body for the sport. The organization annually conducts six national championships and sanctions hundreds of tournaments for players of all ages and skill levels. The organization also organizes the Adult and Junior National Racquetball Teams, oversees the Official Rules of Racquetball, administers National Player Rankings, manages a college scholarship program, and supports the introduction of new players to the sport.