Merrion finds competition playing one handed

Karl Schneider
  • Merrion broke his left collarbone in the final weeks of the basketball season.
  • Medically cleared to play, but without full use of his left arm, he's playing tennis one-handed.
  • Merrion placed fourth in boys singles at the 5A state tournament last season.

FARMINGTON — Not even a bum shoulder can keep Farmington's Ned Merrion off the tennis court.

Farmington's Ned Merrion returns a serve during the Farmington Invitational on Saturday at the Farmington Tennis Complex.

Merrion, a senior for the Scorps boys tennis team, broke his left collarbone a few weeks ago while playing basketball against Aztec. He said when he injured the shoulder, he didn't realize how bad it was and kept playing. A while later, he noticed movement in the collarbone and went to a doctor to have it looked at.

The initial prognosis was Merrion would have to miss the first four weeks of the tennis season.

"I was pretty scared. The doctors told me it would take four weeks (to heal), which is pretty far into the season," Merrion said.

After missing last weekend's Roswell Invitational, Merrion was medically cleared to play in this weekend's Farmington Invitational, playing No. 6 singles for the Scorps.

"I'm super happy (to be back). I just like competing and couldn't imagine sitting out any long than I had to," Merrion said. "I just want some competition."

Farmington boys tennis coach Larry Larson said he was surprised Merrion was cleared to return so soon, expecting the recovery process to last a couple of more weeks.

When Merrion got back to playing during the week, Larson said the senior tried to play with full motion in his left shoulder but that Merrion looked to be in pain and seemed uncomfortable on the court.

Merrion started looking for a way to get on the court and play, even with limited to no use from his left arm, and came up with a solution — he'd just play one handed. He keeps his left shoulder immobile with a sling, serving underhand.

Farmington's Ned Merrion hits a back-handed shot during the Farmington Invitational on Saturday at the Farmington Tennis Complex.

For his serves, Merrion bounces the ball a couple of times with his left hand, using little flicks of his wrist and elbow, then drops the ball for the underhand swing.

"I can get some good spin on it so they (other players) can't get a very good shot back. It's pretty sick," he said.

One-handed play will do for now, but Merrion said he's anxious to have the sling off and get back to playing at full speed and power. He said he expects to be out of the sling in a couple of more weeks.

When he does get back to full strength, he'll have the challenge of finding his timing and form on his serves and two-handed backhands.

If he can get full use of his left arm back in the next two weeks, it will give him about five more weeks to get to top form for the 5A state tournament May 3-6 in Albuquerque.

Last season, Merrion placed fourth in boys singles at the state tourney and said improving on that finish and hopefully helping the Scorps get back into the team title match after losing in the semifinals last year are his primary goals for his final season with the team.

"That's my goal," he said, "to come back at full strength, and hopefully better for my last year, to go complete at state."

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.