Five weeks ago, tennis player and architecture senior Louise Oxnevad had her second shoulder surgery for labral and rotator cuff tearing in three years. It’s an injury common among tennis and baseball players, and one Oxnevad has dealt with since her freshman year at Cal Poly.
Oxnevad played through the pain in her freshman season on the women’s tennis team, she said. She underwent her first shoulder surgery in her sophomore year before redshirting for the season.
Upon returning for her second season, Oxnevad worked her way into Cal Poly’s No. 1 seed, where she competed against the top players from universities on the West Coast.
“There’s a lot of honor playing No. 1 and excitement,” Oxnevad said. “You put a lot of pressure on yourself to prove to the rest of the team, or to the school, that you actually belong there.”
But the damage done to Oxnevad’s labrum and rotator cuff kept rubbing and creating small tears when she played, even after her first surgery. She underwent a second operation on Oct. 22.
Now, still recovering from her second surgery from just over a month ago, Oxnevad is expected to be back playing by the end of February.
“I feel a lot better. I think I’m making a fast recovery this time,” Oxnevad said.
“I feel a lot stronger.”
A New Zealand native, Oxnevad also spent her youth as a competitive skier, once ranking No. 1 in the country for her age. When she got more serious about tennis, she had to learn the different mental aspects of the two sports.
“You have to be more mentally strong for tennis.” Oxnevad said, “Skiing is like trying to get yourself as pumped up as you can before you exit the gate. In tennis, you just have to keep calm, keep cool through the three hours it takes you to finish the match.”
Oxnevad said the two sports transition well because they focus different groups of muscles and, consequently, cause different injuries.
“I was really competitive, probably too competitive, and that’s why I ended up switching to tennis,” Oxnevad said. “I found it was more relaxing.”
Though she’s in the early days of rehabilitation, Oxnevad is hopeful she’ll make a strong comeback with the support of her team, coaches and physical therapists.
Recreation, parks and tourism administration junior Zoe Oedekerk has played with Oxnevad on the tennis team for the past two years.
“She hits like a dude, she has such good form and hits the crap out of the ball.” Oedekerk said. “I got killed by her the first time we ever played a set. It’s really fun to hit with her because you feel like she kind of raises your level of game a little bit.”
Oedekerk said the team’s new head coach, Katharina Winterhalter, has made a positive impact on Oxnevad’s recovery.
Though it’s her first year coaching at Cal Poly, Winterhalter has known Oxnevad since her freshman year from coaching against her as an assistant for St. Mary’s.
“Once I came here I learned really quickly that she’s an extremely hard worker.” Winterhalter said, “She’s very disciplined, has high intensity when she’s on the court, that’s what makes me hopeful about her recovery.”
Though Oxnevad hasn’t played on the court this fall, Winterhalter said she remains an integral part of the team and continues to attend workouts and conditioning sessions.
“She definitely has a leadership role on this team on and off the court,” Winterhalter said.
Winterhalter is optimistic about Oxnevad’s recovery.
“I know that she’s going to work really hard and she’s going to stay on top of it, because I know she’s eager to get back on the court.”
Now, Oxnevad’s biggest hope is to play pain-free and get back to the top of the lineup after her shoulder recovers.
“I really have big goals. Even if this season doesn’t work out, I hope to make NCAA tournaments or All-Americans the following year,” Oxnevad said, “I just really want to see what I can do.”