Long before Chase Healey became the most decorated high school tennis player in area history, the Christ’s Church Academy star had an even bigger task in front of him.
Healey’s older siblings, Austin and Kyle, were always up for a competition. It’s just what boys do. And since Chase was the youngest of the bunch, he absorbed more times of being on the receiving end of lessons than he can count. But that also helped to ignite the drive that carried Healey into lofty territory on the tennis court.
Now a three-time All-News4JAX boys tennis player of the year, Healey had no equal on the court in putting together a career that ranks as the best in area history.
He tore through the regular season and capped his career with his third straight Class 1A state championship. Healey became just the seventh player in a history dating back to 1922 to accomplish that feat. Only one other area player (1922-23) has even won two singles championships.
Before Healey found his niche in tennis, he was just trying to keep up with his siblings.
“They definitely didn’t take it easy on me. You know, I’m the youngest, so they weren’t going to give me anything easy,” he said. “So, I always kind of had to earn my spot or my win. And I do think that helped me throughout these years of competing.”
Healey absorbed his fair share of losses in the family competitive dynamic. That could have been something as simple as basketball or swimming, or something that didn’t even look like a sport. If there was a task to compete in, Healey and his brothers went at it.
More often than not, Healey was on the receiving end of coming up short against his brothers, who are five and eight years older. The other side of that competition was that Healey learned how to battle against tough challenges. Without a doubt, he said, those early years helped steel his resolve on the court.
“I think that might have helped me. Because they were always kind of beating me down,” he said. “And I kind of learned from a young age kind of how to push the older guys around and stuff like that.”
Healey’s credentials are likely untouchable for area players. He lost just three times in his career (sixth grade district final, seventh grade district tournament and the state quarterfinals in eighth grade). During Healey’s freshman through senior seasons, he was a combined 47-0 in the regular and postseasons. Healey didn’t even lose a game during his junior or senior year in the regular season, racking up 8-0s every time out.
Healey said that he probably won’t appreciate what he’s accomplished until later in life. For now, there’s still plenty left to do. College at the University of North Florida is the next stop, with goals of being the best at the next level, too.
“I think it’s still not done because I want to accomplish more. I want to go higher. I want to score higher,” Healey said. “But I’m going to still be grateful for what I’ve accomplished and everyone who has supported me through the way and I just hope I can continue to have success on and off the court.”
All-News4JAX boys tennis
Player, School, Class, Notable
Reef Davis, Fletcher, So.
Unbeaten at No. 1 singles in the regular season (10-0). Finished 11-1 at the doubles spot with Jonas Boyd and McCarthy Crenshaw.
Aryn Gupta, Creekside, Sr.
Went 9-1 at No. 1 singles and 8-1 at the top doubles position with teammates Jack Walzer and Rohit Bongu. Unbeaten against local players.
Chase Healey, Christ’s Church, Sr.
Three-time All-News4JAX player of the year is the most successful high school player in area history. Won his third consecutive title this season. Went 11-0 in singles in the regular season and 9-0 in doubles. Lost one singles match in the regular season as a seventh grader and never again.
Grant Price, Ponte Vedra, Jr.
Went 9-5 at the top singles spot, with just one loss to a local opponent (fellow first-team selection Aryan Gupta).
Michael Rodriguez, Bartram Trail, Sr.
Went 10-2 at the No. 1 singles role and just one loss locally (Creekside’s Aryan Gupta). Went 5-3 at the top doubles spot.
Stanislav Valenteychik, Matanzas, Fr.
Went 11-2 at the No. 1 singles spot, with only losses to Ponte Vedra’s Grant Price. Went 12-1 at doubles with fellow freshman Daniel Faraj.
Player, School, Class, Notable
Akhil Chedde, Stanton, Jr.: Went 7-4 at the top singles spot and qualified for state tournament.
Anik Desai, Bolles, Jr.: Was 6-5 at the No. 2 singles spot and 7-5 at the No. 1 doubles position to help lead Bulldogs to 2A state tournament.
Jackson Hazel, St. Augustine, Sr.: Went 10-4 at the top singles spot for the Yellow Jackets.
Ford Rachels, Episcopal, Jr.: Led a powerful Eagles team with a 15-5 mark in both singles and doubles. Only local player to take a game from Chase Healey this season.
Aidan Stefanides, Episcopal, Jr.: Went 17-2 in singles this year, with all but one of those coming at the No. 2 spot. Also 12-6 at the top doubles spot.
Jack Walzer, Creekside, So.: Put together an 11-0 season (5-0 in singles, 6-0 in doubles) for the Knights.