Daniel’s Aurich came back strong from accident
By Alex Maminakis
CENTRAL — One of the first things Chris Aurich wanted to do after nearly a month’s stay in the hospital was walk.
His father and his teacher, Jon Parker — now his tennis coach — helped lift Aurich from his wheelchair after he left Greenville Memorial Hospital and take a few weak steps.
“This guy who’s muscular, athletic — it just kind of showed how much he had to come back from,” Parker recalled.
Aurich was a Daniel High School sophomore in March of 2016 when he was one of four passengers involved in a serious car accident in Clemson that left him with multiple internal injuries.
While he was in the hospital recovering, the Daniel tennis player lost a lot of weight and obviously wasn’t able to be on the court with his teammates. He fell behind in his schoolwork and was lost for the rest of the tennis season, but he didn’t take long to catch up.
“My intestine was torn, and I had bruised kidneys. That just led to a really slow recovery, getting all of my organs to work again,” Aurich said. “I ended up staying about a month total in the hospital. I was very immobile, lost 25 pounds — I was already pretty skinny, so getting back out on the tennis court was tough for me.
“It took a long time to get back, and it was right in the middle of tennis season. It was tennis for me that really pushed me to get in more physical shape.”
His Daniel teammates visited him in the hospital on occasion to show their support and keep him company, and later at his house when he was able to return home while still immobile.
Aurich — now a senior captain for the Region I-4A champion Lions — has been around the game of tennis since a young age. His road to recovery and getting back on the court wasn’t easy, but now he feels he’s a better player than he was before the accident — a testament to his dedication.
“I’m very proud — that’s one of the bigger accomplishments of my life,” he said. “Just recovering so fast from it, getting able to get all that schoolwork done, get it done well, and just showing myself I’m capable of a lot more. Now I’m in the kind of shape which is so much better than it was before the accident, so I’m really proud of that.”
Parker has coached the Daniel girls’ tennis team for five seasons, and he’s now coached the boys’ team for two years. He was Aurich’s computer science teacher before he was his tennis coach, and Parker served as Aurich’s homebound teacher when Aurich was unable to go to school while recovering.
“It was just kind of neat how he attacked his academics,” Parker said. “Not only did he almost finish everything before the year was out, but he had to work into the summer. It just shows that determination, whether on the court or off the court.”
Now, two years later, Aurich is back in position to lead the Lions to a strong playoff run. Daniel finished the regular season 11-1 and 6-0 in Region I-4A, and on Friday won its Class 4A playoff opener against Union County 6-0. The No. 1 seed Lions are back in action today when they host No. 2 seed South Pointe at 5 p.m. in the second round.
It had been three years since Daniel won the region before this season, and now Aurich wants his team to accomplish even more before his senior year comes to an end.
“I’m very excited. I’d like to break that record of how far I’ve gone before in high school tennis, which would be to get to the Upper State finals, which I think we have a lot of potential to do,” he said. “Any way it goes, if we all put in hard work, I’m going to be happy either way.”
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