Despite injury, Malmberg not allowing impressive career to end yet

Malmberg decided against medical redshirting this spring.

Tyler Rushmeyer

Battling through constant pain and frustration for the sake of the team is what defines senior Ida Malmberg.

In her final semester at Minnesota, she finds her individual goals derailed by a knee surgery and subsequent recovery, but the four-year tennis player with over 100 matches for the Gophers is doing all she can to end her career in memorable fashion.

Malmberg, who had surgery in late October to combat the knee pain that had bothered her for over two seasons, said the inactivity and muscle loss following the operation has been difficult to recover from.

“I think I was playing the best tennis of my life last semester,” she said. “Then came the surgery, which I came out of in worse shape. It’s definitely been a tough road back.”

Now playing in the No. 5 singles position and the second doubles spot, Malmberg finds herself in a much different situation from her presurgery fall season, where she competed at one doubles and two singles.

Redshirt junior Lindsay Risebrough, who sat out last season with a medical redshirt, said Malmberg has handled a trying situation well and has made a big sacrifice for the team.

“Everyone on this team really appreciates what she’s doing,” she said. “Her attitude throughout has remained positive, and that’s something we all look up to and respect.”

With the chance the injury would not improve with time, the decision to withhold redshirting Malmberg was made with much difficulty.

Coach Tyler Thomson said with three key players for this year’s squad already sitting out with medical redshirts, the team needed Malmberg to contribute in any way possible.

“We had many long conversations about it and it’s something I think we both lost sleep over,” he said. “But she’s essential to our success, even with the injury setback.”

According to Thomson, Malmberg’s game was reaching a peak this fall, where she compiled a 10-4 singles record. Post surgery, the senior has put together a 3-5 singles record as she continues to strive to get back to form.

Risebrough said she can see Malmberg making slow steps of progress every week in practice.

“I can see her confidence slowly coming back,” she said. “I’m sure she would like to have another season here, but she’s handling it well and really giving us a chance to win.”

Thomson said it’s been impossible to elevate Malmberg’s game because of her nagging injury.

“She’s worked so hard her whole career and was ramping up her game the entire time,” he said. “I don’t think her game has deteriorated from the fall, but it’s just sort of plateaued and that’s what’s frustrating.”

So with individual goals now set aside, the focus for Malmberg, who plans to be a volunteer assistant coach next season, has become the team and its success.

“I gave up this semester for the team, but I know what I got is still pretty good,” she said. “It may not be my dream finish, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Thomson said the team’s goal of making the NCAA tournament would be a great ending for the senior who has sacrificed so much.

“She hasn’t had the NCAA experience in her time here,” he said. “If we get there, I think it would legitimize her decision to play in many ways and send her out on the high spot she deserves.”