Harrity Slated For Surgery Tomorrow
by Rob Dinerman

September 27, 2006
-Long regarded as one of US squash's most noteworthy "gamers," four-time defending U. S. National Hardball Singles champion Tom Harrity may have out-done himself this past Sunday afternoon when he insisted on finishing the final of the Merion Cricket CLub tennis doubles tourney even after rupturing his left Achilles tendon while retrieving a shallow volley at 5-4, 40-30, match-point (his and nephew/partner Todd Harrity's third of the day) in the third and decisive set.

Though falling heavily onto the har-tru court after incurring the rupture (which he later said felt like someone had shot a bebe bullet into his lower calf), Harrity managed to return the ball but was unable to react to his opponent's responding volley, bringing the score to deuce and seemingly dooming the Harritys' chances of defeating Steve Graham (who is ranked regionally in the 45-and-over category) and Ed Garno.

Previous late-match Achilles ruptures have historically and understandably always resulted in the immediate termination of play and a "withdrew, injury" draw-sheet entry, as when Palmer Page suffered such a mishap 21 months ago when he and partner Gary Yeager were leading Tim Wyant and Cynthia Kempner 13-8 in the fifth game of the Morris member-guest handicap final at Apawamis in December 2004, or when Derrick Niederman did the same (as with Page, to his right Achilles tendon) at 2-1, 12-10 against Scott Dulmage in the '87 U. S. Nationals in Philadelphia on the frigid Ringe Courts at Penn, which also claimed Martin Goldberg in the same way and on the same day.

But this occasion took a stunningly different turn, as the senior Harrity, after taking his allowable 15-minute injury time-out, returned to murmurs of disbelief and served out the game, which he and Todd lost after first attaining a fourth match-point opportunity. Even more surprisingly after this disheartening near-miss, the Harritys (who understandably played the rest of the match with Tom positioned at net as much as possible and Todd covering basically the entire rest of the court) broke serve to go up 6-5, weathered one break-point on Todd's service game and earned a seventh match-point chance of their own, which they converted when Todd Harrity, recently returned from New Zealand, where he played on the U. S. Junior team in the World Junior Men's Squash Championships this past summer, nailed a ball right up the middle and in between Graham and Garno for a clean winner that clinched the 6-3 2-6 7-5 classic, the last TWENTY POINTS of which had occurred after the rupture had taken place.

Harrity is scheduled on Thursday to undergo tendon re-attachment surgery, which will be performed by Dr. Bartolozzi, the team orthopedic surgeon for the Philadelphia Eagles, whose standout wide receiver Todd Pinkston had this exact same injury last year. Normally the rehabilitation time frame in the wake of a wound of this magnitude is six months' minimum (12 months is not at all uncommon), but Harrity is ambitiously planning to return to the competitive fray in time for the early-January William White Invitational, the flagship event of the Merion Cricket Club season, approximately 100 days hence. In addition to Page, Goldberg and Niederman, all of whom successfully regained their pre-injury form, squash standouts who made full recoveries from Achilles tendon ruptures include '86 WPSA Champion Mario Sanchez, Hall Of Fame honoree Diehl Mateer, '87 and '88 National Doubles champion Scott Ryan (who got hurt in between these two titles), ISDA pro doubles standout David Kay and '96 Metropolitan Open champion John Winchester.

This first appeared on squashtalk.com

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