Upstate tennis star back on court after major surgery - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate tennis star back on court after major surgery

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ANDERSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Natalie Ivey is sweating in the summer heat as she is preparing for her first tennis tournament in a year. A lot of work has gone into getting to this point.

"It's three hours a day, it's really intense, and it gets your physical conditioning - it really raises the bar," she said.

She runs back and forth on the court, hitting every tennis ball that comes at her. The fact that she can do this all is remarkable.

Seven months ago, she had surgery to fix a terrible problem with her back. Doctors said she had a condition known as Spondylolisthesis, and it resulted in Natalie's back being 80 percent out of alignment.

"Around August of last year, they said you can't play tennis, that's what the doctor said. They said my spine had slipped too much, and that I would need to have surgery," said Natalie.

"I've told many a person that in that hospital, I cried more in that week than I cried in my whole life - watching Natalie in that much pain before the surgery," said Holt Ivey, Natalie's father.

The surgery was around Christmastime. Natalie was back out on the court in May, with baby steps.

"I was beginning to hit a couple of balls without moving my feet, and turning very easy," Natalie said.

If you look at Natalie, you'd never know she had any problems at all. Doctors at Greenville Hospital System say that the recovery time Natalie had is average, but "I suppose you could say it was above average because of her activity level," said Natalie's spine surgeon Dr. Timothy McHenry.

"She is tenacious, she was patient, she was determined," said Holt Ivey.

Natalie now has metal rods and screws in her back. She's not 100 percent just yet, but that's not stopping her from enjoying life.

"I still have a twinge here and there, but it's so much better than before. But other than that I have no pain at all, which is great," she said.

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