LEXINGTON – It’s a phone call a college coach never wants to receive from a No. 1 recruit, the kind that has you picking your jaw off the floor.
That’s why Butler University men’s tennis coach Parker Ross remembers the stunning news from Mason Dragos in late March as if it were yesterday.
Hey coach, I just wanted you to know I’ve been in an accident.
“The first thing in my head was a car accident; that was my initial thought,” Ross said. “The second thing I thought was that he was goofing around with some friends and broke a bone, which is bad, too.”
There’s bad and then there’s impossible-to-comprehend bad. Dragos, just beginning his final season for Lexington, was calling about the latter.
Dragos told Ross about how he was spending what he thought was an uneventful Saturday (March 14) with a friend and how they met up with some other people at a local establishment to have some late-night pizza when a handgun sitting on a counter accidentally went off.
Dragos, seated at the counter, was wounded when the bullet ricocheted off the granite counter and hit him in the chest.
Initially, the southpaw tennis star was worried more about his left hand and arm, which got hit when the bullet sprayed pieces of granite from the countertop and shards of glass from drinks sitting on the counter.
“I was walking away because my ears were ringing so bad,” Dragos said. “My hand was shooting blood. It squirted me in the face immediately. All I was scared about was my hand because it went numb. Then I noticed that my shirt got all bloodied. That’s when I knew …”
Dragos initially felt a burning sensation in his chest, but it was masked by the throbbing pain in his hand — the dominant hand he used in turning himself into one of the top tennis talents in Ohio.
“It looked like it went through a blender,” Dragos said. “I was laying on the floor waiting for the ambulance, pulling granite out of my hand. It was disgusting.”
When his parents got to the hospital, Mason was still in the ambulance. From there he was taken inside for tests and to get his wounds cleaned and stitched.
“For a good hour and a half, we sat there, though, thinking, ‘He’s dying,’” Jill Dragos, Mason’s mom, said. “I just paced the (waiting room) floor. I couldn’t sit down. It wasn’t until after midnight we were told he was going to be fine.”
The only thing in serious peril was Mason Dragos’ bid for a state tennis championship.