Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A season ending injury; a pulled groin muscle

Ouch! I feel like such an idiot. I was asked to play tennis last Thursday night - they needed a fourth - and I'd been working in the yard all afternoon. Although I had the chance to eat a quick sandwich, when I got to the courts I failed to do my normal warm-up routine, and I paid for it dearly.

I've been playing tennis for 12 years now and this is the first fall that I haven't played on a men's ALTA team since 2000, though I am playing USTA mixed doubles on Friday nights. After taking off the month of August, I haven't been playing well, or at least consistently enough to win matches. Funny but, when I first starting playing again, I played some of my best tennis (and felt unbeatable) in practice. However, once match play began, I couldn't sustain a high level over the course of two sets, and my partner and I lost both our matches.

Therefore, when I had the chance before last Friday night's matches to get in an extra practice, I jumped at the opportunity to play some mixed doubles. Ever since I'd read Brad Gilbert's Winning Ugly 10+ years ago, I've jogged 2-3 laps around the court - specifically to warm and stretch my body's primary muscle groups, "kicking my butt" and high stepping - before even picking up my racquet. But, for whatever reason, last Thursday night - because it was just a casual, social game? - I only jogged in place for perhaps 20-30 seconds, and we very briefly hit some balls before we started the first set.

On literally the second point, while trying to get to a drop shot, I felt my left ankle starting to turn, so I decided to roll with it, do a somersault, hoping that I could gracefully avoid an injury. Wrong! Big pain in my groin when my right leg didn't really follow through and bang! There I was, sitting on the ground, skin torn from my right hand and elbow, and a (severely?) pulled or even torn right groin. In retrospect, obviously, I probably shouldn't have even been playing after the afternoon I'd spent aerating and over-seeding my backyard - which included transporting a rather heavy machine back-and-forth to Home Depot - but I really should have stuck to my warm-up routine in any case. I didn't realize how much it has protected me as I've aged these dozen years and continued doing it.

So here I am, rather infirm, trying in vain to heal with rest, ice, heat, compression and Advil. It's not working, or at least not very quickly, and the purple bruising is getting larger and larger, covering much of my inner thigh and lower abdomen. Could I have a sports hernia? Time will tell. I'm hoping desperately that I won't need surgery or, worse, haven't ended my tennis playing days.

But hey, in the grander scheme of things, I am still very fortunate. I've had my greatest tennis successes in the past 14 months, reached heights that other recreational players (and captains) never have, so I'm counting my blessings in my recovery and praying to God that more tennis is in my future.

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