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A remarkable return

September 17, 2018

La PORTE — For Tristen Poe, it was tough not being an active part of La Porte’s boys tennis sectional championship team last year after missing most of the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder.

The injury didn’t dampen his spirits about the team winning though.

“It was really unfortunate, with the guys winning the sectional,” Poe said. “I’m glad I could be a part of it, kind of behind the scenes. I loved everybody on that team last year.”

Now that he’s made a full recovery and return to the court this campaign, Poe is eager to help the Slicers hoist another sectional trophy again. His play has been instrumental in La Porte’s huge turnaround season.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s a dream. I’m living the dream. I’m just so glad to have a team like this, built like this, like a family.”

Late last summer, Poe began showing signs of the labrum tear.

Then, in the third or fourth match of La Porte’s season, it got progressively worse, so Poe went to a massage therapist, who noticed something wrong. That doctor transferred him to a doctor in Michigan City, where it was determined Poe had the torn labrum.

While Poe couldn’t experience firsthand the thrill of capturing the sectional, he worked tirelessly in the offseason. That has prepared him to get back on the court, and to excel once he returned.

“Tristen’s been so consistent, and the work he’s done in the offseason has been phenomenal,” Slicers coach Don Varda said. “He’s got a great coach to coach him, Joe, and I feel like they did a phenomenal job in the offseason. He came back to our team way better than he was last year, no question about it.”

Poe’s stepfather, Joe Woods, who’s a tennis pro, helped him improve his game in the offseason.

Woods has a tennis court in his back yard, so sometimes they go out and play, even in 30-degree weather, any time they can go out and hit the ball.

“It’s just a privilege to be able to have someone like that who has experience,” Poe said. “And who actually has been a pro for quite some time. It’s a blessing.”

Woods has been a tennis professional in Niles, Mich.

“And then, also for him to be a part of the family, too,” Poe added. “He doesn’t get any better than that.”

Varda added Poe has improved in a variety of areas with his game, aiding his superb 12-4 record so far this year.

“His ground strokes are better,” Varda said. “His consistency’s better. His net play’s better. He’s really good at the net now, and he’s coming in and making plays at the net.”

At the same time Poe is hoping to contribute to a special finish to the season, he’s aiming to support his teammates no matter what.

“I want to be everybody’s No. 1 supporter, No. 1 fan,” Poe said. “I’ve always strived to pump the team up. I’m just really glad to be a part of the team. This team is unbelievable.”

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