Greely High senior Luna Smith Mejia had surgery last summer to help with a medical condition called supraventricular tachycardia, which causes her heart to suddenly beat rapidly. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

By season’s end last June, Luna Smith Mejia had worked her way to the top of the Greely High tennis ladder.

She played No. 1 singles for a team that advanced to the semifinal round of the Class B South tournament. Individually, she qualified from her region and reached the second round of the state singles tournament, putting her among the top 32 girls in Maine.

This spring, as a senior co-captain, Smith Mejia opened the season two rungs below where she had left off. She played No. 3 singles in Greely’s 5-0 victory over fellow Western Maine Conference member York.

If there’s any hint of frustration in Smith Mejia for the drop in stature, she hides it exceedingly well. In fact, she sounds downright delighted.

“I’m OK if I don’t play first (singles),” she said before the York match. “I know it’s a lot of pressure playing first.”

Smith Mejia (pronounced may-hee-ya) was born in Washington state and lived in Hong Kong, China and Singapore before her family settled in Maine. Her dad grew up in Washington and her mom in Mexico City. In Singapore, the temperature rarely dips below 75 degrees and sports are connected with clubs, not schools.


In Asia, Smith Mejia swam. She played netball, a game similar to basketball but without backboards or dribbling. As a sixth grader, she took up tennis. She entered the Cumberland school system midway through eighth grade. Upon reaching Greely, she added volleyball and ice hockey. She also paints, makes jewelry and works with clay.

“A lot of the sports I do are social,” she said, “and mainly for fun.”

Last spring there were a few times when Smith Mejia had to break for a few minutes to get her heart rate under control. She has a condition called supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT, that first surfaced when she was 9.

The heart typically beats 60 to 100 times per minute. In an episode of SVT, the heart jumps to 150 to 220 times per minute.

“It usually happened when I was jumping, or if I was nervous,” she said. “It’s happened in all my sports.”

Greely Coach Mark Ouellette said there were three or four such episodes last spring.


“The first time was shocking, and then after that, it was all right,” he said. “I would explain to the other coaches, she’s not sandbagging. She’s not playing head games. She’s just getting her heart rate down.”

Smith Mejia said she has learned techniques to ward off episodes, such as blocking her nose and pushing down, but when they don’t work, she has to go to a hospital. Two years ago, while traveling in rural Mexico, she experienced an episode without a hospital nearby. That tipped the scales in favor of surgery, which she underwent late last summer.

Now she no longer takes daily medication that had begun when she was 11 or 12. And she hasn’t had an episode since.

“I was scared to do the surgery, but I’m glad I did it,” she said. “Less anxiety. I never knew when (an episode) was going to happen.”

Considering everything she’s been through, she’s fully comfortable and supportive of sophomore Emma Lindsey and freshman Isobel Wright playing ahead of her on the Greely ladder. Fellow senior co-captain Mia Netland, who rose from No. 3 to No. 2 singles last season, sat out the first match but is also in the singles mix.

Lindsey – who started out last spring at No. 1 for Greely – and Netland also reached the Round of 32 in singles along with Smith Mejia. If room allows in regional qualifying, schools may enter two alternates in addition to their allotment of three players for the MPA singles tournament.


Ouellette said he hopes to send four girls on May 7 to the Region 5 qualifier for the state individual tournament, with Wright joining Lindsey, Netland and Smith Mejia.

Having four players reach the Round of 16 at the state tournament would be an impressive feat for this Greely group, but the two senior co-captains have loftier goals in mind. Netland said she worries less about singles and more about the program’s future. Like Mejia Smith, Netland has other interests. She’s an Alpine skier, congressional debater and president of the school’s student government.

“I put being a captain and engaging the girls and creating a sense of community before my competitiveness,” Netland said. “Although I am very competitive, this is high school tennis, and at the end of the day, this isn’t what is most important.”

A championship plaque would be nice, but Smith Mejia has a broader perspective. She wants her teammates “to view tennis as something fun and something that everyone can join, more like a community type of thing.”

She paused.

“But I do feel like we have a strong team this year.”

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