GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Three years ago, the thought of Matthew DeVlieger ever playing tennis again was a pipedream.
DeVlieger was the #1 tennis player on Calvin College's men's tennis team before a tragic scuba diving accident, in the Florida Keys, caused him to paralyzed from the chest down.
The Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian graduate was on a 135-foot dive when an oxygen problem with his tank caused him to suface too quickly.
That was December, 2009.
Fast-forward two-and-a-half years and DeVlieger is back playing the sports he loves, except this time in a wheelchair.
DeVlieger is one of 70 top wheelchair tennis players from the United States and Canada competing in this weekend's "2012 Midwest Wheelchair Championship" which is being held at Orchard Hills Tennis Center in Grand Rapids.
DeVlieger says he's been practicing regularly since March, and despite still learning how to navigate around on the wheelchair, his game is coming back to him.
So much so that the first wheelchair tournament he entered since his 2009 accident, he won.
It happened last weekend in Tennessee. DeVlieger won the wheelchair men's singles championship.
Now he hopes to do the same thing this weekend in his hometown of Grand Rapids.
"it was great, it was fun, getting out and competing again in tournaments," said DeVlieger. "It's the first [tournament] since my injury that i've played in. It was kind of surprising that i won."
DeVlieger says he has begun walking with the aid of a walker and his doctors remain hopeful that he'll walk on his own again someday.
"I'm thankful to be back playing tennis again, and I'm thankful to play competitively in my home town again," said DeVlieger. "I have missed doing that."
The Midwest Wheelchair Championship runs Thursday, July 12 through Sunday, July 15. The Friday and Saturday schedules are the same - 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. The finals are slates for Sunday and they will take place from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
The event is free to the public each day.