Two Edina grads look to get back on the court

by Zach Eisendrath

Minnesota’s women’s tennis team had Big Ten championship aspirations entering the spring season.

Losses to Iowa and Ohio State in their first two conference duals have put the Gophers in a hole, but now Minnesota has reason for optimism thanks to the possible late-season returns of two Edina High School products: sophomore Jane Anderson and junior Lindsay Risebrough.

Anderson has not competed in a competitive match since early last May when she played in the Big Ten tournament. Ever since, she has been experiencing shoulder and elbow pain.

Risebrough – like her high school and now college teammate Anderson – sat out all of the fall season.

Last spring, Risebrough had minor shoulder surgery but when she returned after her six-week recovery, she aggravated the injury by applying pressure to her elbow. That left her in a pretty similar situation as Anderson, with shoulder and elbow pain in the same place and a damaged nerve.

“I think they’ve gained a much greater appreciation for being healthy, as anybody would,” coach Tyler Thomson said. “It’s easy to take things for granted.”

Risebrough agreed that sitting out has been difficult, but said it also has done some good.

“It kills me to watch everyone else practice,” she said. “But this is one of the best things to ever happen to me. It has been a real eye-opener and has shown me how much I love the sport. It’s easy to take this for granted; (sitting out) really puts things in perspective.”

Thomson doesn’t just think sitting out has made Anderson and Risebrough better people. He said they also should be better tennis players when they return to the lineup.

“I think they’ve learned more about the game from watching it,” he said, “and noticing tendencies and kind of having some of the things they’ve heard from (the coaches) a lot reinforced with their own eyes.”

Anderson compiled a 15-18 record in her freshman campaign, in which she played as high as the No. 2 singles position.

Thomson said he was surprised with how well she performed in her first year.

“She really took in a lot of new information,” Thomson said, “and learned to be a better player during her freshman year, and in spring made some leaps in her game that were more than I think we expected. It was a good freshman year.”

Thomson said he expected Anderson to play last weekend, but Anderson felt pain the night before the Gophers’ 5-2 dual loss to the Buckeyes.

Anderson has been cleared by doctors and practiced all day Tuesday, but her status is still day-to-day. Whenever Anderson does return, she will have to work her way back to the top of the singles lineup.

“If she comes back, which is still up in the air, it is likely that she would start near the bottom of the lineup since she hasn’t been out on the court in so long,” Thomson said.

Risebrough – who still remains a little further away from returning than Anderson – has played as high as No. 3 singles. Risebrough won five of her first six spring matches, but finished 9-11 last spring as she battled injuries throughout the season. She said she doesn’t want to make the same mistake twice and come back before she’s 100 percent healthy.

“You can’t always get what you want,” Risebrough said. “I’d love to come back, but you need to deal with the cards you’ve been dealt. I’m just trying to be ready as soon as possible.”

Still, No. 1 singles and doubles player senior Nischela Reddy said seeing her injured teammates get back into action is very encouraging.

“It’s awesome,” Reddy said. “Just watching Lindsay and Jane at practice is a huge difference, just because you have the whole team on the court; it’s a lot more intense. It would be great to have them back in the lineup.”