A shoulder injury sidelined University of the Ozarks tennis player Karlee Hart for nearly two seasons.

It continued to affect her at the start of this past spring's schedule as a junior. But gradually she began to find her groove, and ended up finishing with a record of 5-6.

"I had a shoulder injury my sophomore year in the spring season and I was out for a big part of that spring season as well as all of the fall season of my junior year," Hart, a former standout at Van Buren, said.

Needless to say, Hart is going all out for the start of her senior season in Clarksville and making sure another injury doesn't happen. And she's doing more than just hitting lobs and volleys over the net.

"To prepare for my senior season, I have been keeping in good shape by running, cycling and lifting weights," Hart said.

"I am excited for my senior season because I am starting it feeling 100 percent healthy for the first time in a couple of years. Also, the level of training that I have received at the college level has me feeling prepared."

Hart added being able to use her feet in any training activity is very important during the course of a match.

"The strongest part of my game is that I am pretty quick on my feet, which allows me to get to difficult shots," she said. "That is why I condition, run and do other aerobic workouts so I can keep in good shape and increase stamina."

And then there's other non-tennis related activities which keep Hart on the go.

"I love anything outdoors such as hiking, cycling, rock climbing, and I am currently a zip line instructor in Eureka Springs," she said.

But with a lot of activities Hart enjoys, there's still nothing like tennis, a sport she has loved since she was a youngster.

"My first experience with tennis was at a First Serve camp at a younger age and it stole my heart," Hart said. "Later, I started playing in a summer league with coach Dee Cox of Van Buren and that is really when my hunger for tennis started.

"For Van Buren High School, I did well. I was All-Conference sophomore through my senior year."

And one of the early lessons Hart picked up from tennis was to stay active at all times.

"I learned early on that I have to give every match 100 percent effort, otherwise I am not satisfied," she said. "This led me to develop a good work ethic on and off the court.

"Also, in team tennis with coach Dee Cox and in high school with coach Brandy Mosby, they taught me to respect all of our opponents on and off of the court."

Hart carried that approach over to the next level, when she went to Ozarks.

She found an early dose of success, posting six singles wins at the No. 1 position as a freshman in 2017, including winning four of five matches during one stretch in March.

"My most memorable match was my freshman year on our spring break trip when I got my first win against a (Division I) player at UAPB (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), then we traveled straight to Mississippi afterwards and I got two more wins during that trip," Hart said.

Hart then had three wins in singles and two more in doubles as a sophomore prior to suffering her shoulder injury.

She also had to deal with a new coach coming in that same year.

"The coach who recruited me left after my freshman year and the new coach, Jeff Kutac, has helped me significantly over the past few years with strategy on the court to become a smarter tennis player," Hart said.

When Hart finally returned to the court this past spring, following an adjustment period from the injury, she really made her presence felt in February, when Hart won back-to-back American Southwest Conference East Division Player of the Week honors.

Hart won her first award the week of Feb. 12-17, going 2-0 in singles play and teaming up with Alexandria Corona for an 8-4 doubles win against John Brown University. The following week, spanning matches from Feb. 22-24, Hart went 2-1 in singles and 1-2 in doubles.

"I believe I improved since my freshman year," Hart said. "I got a lot stronger due to the weight room and gym facilities that were available.

"My college schedule helped out as well because I was able to fit a morning individual hit with some of the players on the men's team as well as a morning workout in my schedule before classes."

And without a doubt, Hart approaches her classwork the same way she approaches things on the tennis court.

She possesses a current grade-point average of 3.75, majoring in business administration and health science, while having minors in psychology and American studies. Hart has also been named to the ASC All-Academic team her sophomore and junior seasons.

"I love playing for Ozarks because I am able to focus on my education, which is most important to me, while still improving and enjoying the game," Hart said. "Also, all of the traveling is a fun experience, especially with my teammates."

Now Hart is determined to end her career at Ozarks on a high note. Even though she isn't quite ready to put down her racket after graduation.

"Yes, I have given it thought and I will miss the college athletic experience," Hart said. "However, I will always be a tennis player.

"Dee Cox was the main influence in my tennis game as well as my parents, Ray and Lisa Hart. My parents have always supported and pushed me in my tennis game as well as in life and in college. I am extremely thankful for Dee Cox, Brandy Mosby and my parents for teaching me valuable lessons through the sport of tennis."