Five months ago, Valparaiso No. 1 singles player Ben Kalisch felt pain in his right shoulder but figured he could play through it.
What transpired became a lesson learned for the Vikings senior.
"I'd get better, then it got bad again a month ago," Kalisch said of what was later diagnosed as tendonitis in his rotator cuff. "It was really disappointing not to play tennis."
Kalisch spent time off the court, had an MRI done on the injured area, received a cortisone shot and took physical therapy sessions.
Kalisch has subsequently returned to the courts, a little stronger and a lot wiser.
"The physical exercises helped build my strength," said Kalisch, who was 14-4 last year at No. 1. "It definitely taught me to be more careful. If something is wrong, I'll say something instead of playing through it."
Kalisch also spent offseason time playing in United States Tennis Association events. He played on the All-District Davis Cup 18 team, playing at Western Michigan University. He also qualified for the USTA Midwest Closed Championships.
"I was able to find out what worked and what didn't," he said. "I worked a lot on my offense."
Valparaiso coach Tim Shideler said that Kalisch has found more pop on his serve, and the senior improved on his forehand to make it more of weapon.
"He's going to try to finish off points quicker," Shideler said.
Just like last year, Kalisch is taking advantage of practice sessions with No. 2 singles player Marty Pochop, who was also a member of the Davis Cup 18 squad.
"Working with a player like (Pochop) just keeps me focused," Kalisch said. "We push each other."
Kalisch would like to play college tennis, and he believes his improved play and lessons learned could make that dream come true.
"All of this has been a great learning experience," said Kalisch, whose father Steve played at Vermont. "High school tennis has been fun. Every point is much more important to me now."