Christian Heaney-Secord strives for excellence on court
Sophomore mechanical engineering major Christian Heaney-Secord, who is well over six feet tall, is known to the Carnegie Mellon tennis team as Big Chris.
However, Heaney-Secord didn’t enter Carnegie Mellon the year after he graduated high school. Instead, he took a year off to follow his 14-year-long passion for tennis and trained at home in Westwood, Mass.
During his gap year, Heaney-Secord also took two calculus courses to stay on top of his academics.
But being on a team again allowed him to develop a dynamic with his Tartan teammates. “It’s one of the exciting parts about playing college sports, competing with teams against other schools,” Heaney-Secord said. “It’s a way that I can express my passion for the game in a competitive environment.”
So far, Heaney-Secord’s proudest moment came from his match against No. 5 in the country, North Carolina Wesleyan College. “The match was tied at 4–4, and I won my match in three sets to clinch the victory for the Tartans,” he said.
Heaney-Secord’s passion for tennis has not gone unnoticed by his teammates either. “Big Chris always strives to do the right thing by putting in the hours of practice, holding himself to a high standard, and offering to help someone in need, whether it be a stranger or a friend. Anyone would be frickin’ stoked to have Chris as a teammate,” sophomore Bryce Beisswanger said.
Specifically, Heaney-Secord is looking to the team’s first-years to be key contributors. “I think the freshmen are an amazing group of people; each different personality adds something to our team dynamic,” he said.
Heaney-Secord was too humble to set personal goals for this season, but he set the team’s overall goal high. “I want to win a D-III National Championship as a team,” he said.
Assistant tennis coach Mike Belmonte, however, has set some specific goals for him. “Christian came back for his sophomore season looking very sharp. He spent a lot of time over the summer improving certain areas of his game, and I can already see that he is much improved from last year. He has continued to work hard so far this season, bringing a great attitude and good energy to every practice. We expect big things from him this year, and I am confident that he is up for the challenge,” Belmonte said.
Senior Jooho Yu agreed, saying, “I have a ton of respect for Big Chris as a player, teammate, and person. It’s clear that he worked very hard on his game over the summer and the entire team is expecting huge things from him this year.”
Off the court, Heaney-Secord works hard on his academics. “My favorite class was my engineering class where we made submarines out of plastic and a bridge that our teacher walked across out of cardboard,” he said.
After graduating, he hopes to get an engineering job in Hawaii so he can live near one of his teammates, first-year Paul Okuda.