Tennis taking a backseat to life experiences for Hegstrom

Ian Hegstrom made it to the finals in the boys 14-under bracket at the Community Hospital Junior Tournament on Saturday, but it was his experience on a recent mission trip that has him more excited.

This summer is becoming a memorable one for Ian Hegstrom.

The 14-year-old advanced to his first tennis singles final about a week after returning from an unforgettable mission trip to the Bahamas.

“He’s had a great summer,” said his father, Todd Hegstrom. “He hasn’t played as much tennis as he’d like, but (the mission trip) was a good experience for him.

“He’s growing up on the tennis court and learning how to handle the pressure of match play. That’s what this is all about. There’s nothing like it.”

Ian was frustrated on the court at times Saturday, but he persevered to defeat Bryce Atchinson 3-6, 7-5, (10-8) in the Community Hospital Junior Tournament boys 14-under singles draw at the Elliott Tennis Center at Colorado Mesa University.

“This is actually my first time I’ve ever been in the finals of a tournament,” Ian said. “I usually get out early in the first or second round.”

He plays Brody Cupp in the championship at 9:30 a.m. today.

Anne Hughes defeated Carolena Campos 6-1, 6-0 for the girls 16-under singles title, and Julianna Campos rallied to win the girls 12-under singles title 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, (10-4).

Although Ian was proud of his victory, the memories of his mission trip likely will stand out the rest of his life.

“I thought it would be good for me, getting to bond with other kids,” Ian said. “I feel like I really grew up on this trip. It was a great learning experience. I learned a lot about everything.”

Ian and about 20 other teenagers, ages 14-18 from the First Presbyterian Church, recently returned from the Bahamas, where they shingled homes that had been battered by hurricane winds. The group was there for 10 days.

“I haven’t been involved in the church much,” he said. “They had an opening, and I thought, ‘Why not?’ I get to bond with these other kids. I knew it would be a great experience for me.”

What stood out to Ian on the trip was the perspective the locals had, despite living in torn-up homes.

“Seeing all these people, no matter how much natural disasters or all the things going wrong in their life, they’re still happier than anybody here in America,” Ian said, slightly exaggerating. “Everybody honks (their car horns) as a way of saying hi.”

Several other teens from Presbyterian churches were there. They spent time with the teens in the Bahamas playing basketball and hanging out on the beach.

“I became friends with the local kids,” Ian said. “They are so similar to you and everyone else. They all speak English, so we could communicate with them.”

This week, Ian is going to a Boy Scouts camp at San Isabel Ranch. Then, it’s back to the tennis courts, where he hopes to make the Grand Junction High School varsity team this fall as a freshman.

“There’s a lot of competition in the house (with four boys),” Todd Hegstrom said. “They’re all different, but he’s improving and growing up.

“I’m happy to see him mature as a young man.”


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