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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Fighter: Megan Heneghan

Take a peek at the UC Davis women’s tennis lineup card for each match, and you will invariably find Megan Heneghan slotted at the number one singles position. She has held that post for the majority of her career since midway through her freshman year here at UC Davis. Now a senior, Heneghan has garnered accolades that include the Big West freshman of the year in 2010-11 season, All-Big West singles first team in her freshman and sophomore years, and All-Big West singles second team honors for her junior season.

“She’s probably the best player I’ve ever coached and I’ve been here 19 years,” said women’s tennis head coach Bill Maze.

During Heneghan’s junior year, she scored singles victories during team wins against two nationally-ranked opponents in Sacramento State and San Jose State. She defeated Klaudia Boczova of the Spartans, who was ranked 40th in the nation at that point.

“Her greatest strength is her competitiveness,” coach Maze said. “She gives [her opponents] nothing. She plays phenomenal defense and has become much more offensive.”

So why did such a talented player, who surely garnered interest from bigger sports schools, decide to come to UC Davis?

“I chose UC Davis because I fell in love with the town,” Heneghan said in an email interview. “The people, the atmosphere, and just the positive energy that Davis has is incomparable. As an Orange County native, I needed to get away and experience a completely different community. I loved that Davis was a true college town, and that everyone biked around campus.”

Davis has a relaxed atmosphere that makes it easy for people to lose themselves in, but student athletes cannot afford that luxury, particularly when they are expected to lead their team in nearly every match. Heneghan though, remains undaunted.

“I love being out on the court, playing for my school, my coach and my team. There is a certain amount of added pressure to playing number one singles,” Heneghan said. “Every opponent you face is going to be really good, no matter where they are from. But I use that pressure to motivate, not discourage me. I give 110 percent in my matches, win or lose.”

Much of college athletics involves team interaction, and that becomes the cornerstone for most student-athletes’ college lives.  The women’s tennis team is no different, and in fact was one of the deciding factors in bringing Heneghan to UC Davis.

“The team was friendly, welcoming, but most of all they were just as passionate about tennis as I was. They worked extremely hard and still had a blast,” Heneghan said. “We practice every day for at least two and a half hours, with weight lifting after practice on Tuesday and Thursday for one hour. If we don’t have matches on the weekend, I will go out and hit with one of my teammates or a hitting partner for at least two hours.”

Through putting in so many hours on the court, the team has banded together in good times and bad to support and encourage one another on the court as well as off.

“Being on a team is like gaining new siblings. Every single day you have amazing people by your side to support you, give you advice and even give you a nice reality check when you need it,” Heneghan said. “You can be a total fool around your teammates. And you always have someone to talk to about problems in your life. I went through a pretty serious issue during my junior year where I needed a lot of help and support from others. My team and my coach helped pull me through it, and I cannot imagine where I would be today if I didn’t have them. We have an incredible team this year. We support each other on and off the court, and I am so grateful for that.”

Looking ahead to the future Heneghan is certain of two things that she wants to continue doing after graduation and they both involve sports.

“I really want to play some Women’s Open tournaments and Qualifiers after I graduate. I can’t be done with tennis after this year. I just love it too much,” she said. “After the tournaments I hope to continue working in sports media or marketing. My absolute dream is to work with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I would love to be a sports broadcaster like Erin Andrews.”

Being an athlete has helped mold Heneghan into the confident and positive person she is today, and she knows it.

“[Athletics] has helped me stay focused on my goals, and kept me motivated in all aspects of my life,” Heneghan said. “No matter what the future holds, tennis will always be a part of my life. A piece of me will forever belong to this sport.”


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