Now, as a freshman on the tennis team at North Georgia College & State University a he’s able to do things more like a normal college student — he’s active in the school’s Campus Outreach Ministry and plans to join a fraternity on campus. Academics are also a priority for the first time in his life. He’s got a 3.8 grade point average to prove it, and he plans to major in finance. Partrick’s plans for the future are to either pursue a career in commercial real estate, or possibly follow in his brother Stephen’s footsteps into the seminary.
"I think Grant has done some serious soul searching," his mother Janet Partrick said. "He’s learned an incredible work-ethic through playing tennis."
There was a time, before injuries intervened, when Partrick rarely strayed far from the tennis court.
As a former nationally ranked player and three-time Times Area Tennis Player of the Year, playing on the small college level and making plans for life after tennis really never crossed Partrick’s mind.
Now, he really wouldn’t have it any other way."I’m loving it here at North Georgia," Partrick said. "It’s kind of a relaxing and I’m really enjoying my life.
"I’m still having fun playing tennis."
Before attending NGCSU, life for Partrick revolved around chasing his tennis dreams on the professional level. The only life he knew was barnstorming the country in tennis tournaments that took this former Georgia-Florida Open Champion from coast to coast.
"I spent my childhood on the tennis court," Partrick said.
But two torn labrums in his right shoulder and a pair of grueling surgeries later, his life has taken a drastic turn. Partrick, now 21, realizes that playing tennis past college is probably not very likely. A best-case scenario for his tennis career, he says, is a successful couple of seasons at NGCSU without any further injury, and then possibly a transfer to a bigger school.
But even that goal is a stretch.
Every time Partrick steps on the court he is fearful that another torn labrum could be on the horizon. He compares the pain in his shoulder to a dull sensation that left him without full control of his shoulder motion. The best remedy for the pain he still experiences is continuous physical therapy on the court, and about an hour each day with bands and massages before he can even think about hitting a tennis ball.
Partrick credits the aid of the team’s physical therapist with helping him play his best tennis since enrolling at the school in Dahlonega.
"I’m just trying to manage the pain," Partrick said. "It takes so much to be able to play this game at a high level."
When NGCSU opens the spring season Feb. 2 against Erskine, Partrick could be playing No. 1 or 2 doubles or anywhere from No. 3-5 in singles. With the help of a trainer on the court to help stretch his shoulder every couple of points, Partrick battled through persistent discomfort and finished the fall season with a 3-2 record in singles.
"Having Grant on our team adds another dimension to our program with players that are mostly from out of the country with his local connections," Saints coach Kent Norsworthy said. "And he gets along with everyone on the team very well.
"Getting Grant was a good pick up for our program."
And Partrick says he’s finally content with his situation on the tennis court.
With all of the disappointment brought on by the repeated injuries, he went through a full array of emotions — anger, frustration and wondering if he would ever play tennis at a high level again.
When he tore the labrum the first time, in 2005, he says he was playing the best tennis of his life and was on the fast track to playing professionally.
But after the surgery, doctors said he would never be able to pick up a tennis racket again.
Slowly, with about eight months of rehabilitation, Partrick developed the strength back in his shoulder.
And then, it happened again.
In 2006, Partrick tore the same labrum playing in his first tournament in Mobile, Ala.
"It was like getting kicked when I was already down," Partrick said.
That’s when Partrick started realizing he needed another plan for his life. Through his close personal connections in Gainesville, he honed in on a possible career in real estate. He’s also considering going side-by-side with his brother Stephen in pursuing a career in the ministry.
"He’s grown a lot since his injuries," Stephen Partrick said. "Grant has grown tremendously as a person and in his relationship with God."
But before he enters the professional world, he wants to make a lasting impact on the college tennis ranks. Partrick is joined on NGCSU’s roster with fellow Gainesville High graduate Santiago Carballal.
"I want to play tennis to my fullest potential and leave it all on the court," Partrick said. "I want to be the picture of class and glorify God in everything that I do."