Cavero excels after suffering from injury

By Matt Ferguson

Against his mother’s original intentions, sophomore tennis player Jorge Cavero left his home in Lima, Peru, and came to the U.S. for a degree and become a professional tennis player.

However, his return home nearly cost him his future in tennis.

Cavero has aspired to play at the professional level since he graduated Peru’s Nivel A. High School in 2009. However, he said his first attempt didn’t pan out the way he expected.

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“After high school, I took all of 2010 to travel around South America to play in a futures tournament,” Cavero said. “It’s the first step in going professional, and unfortunately it didn’t go well. There, I met this coach form Peru who took care of all the players who wanted to study in the United States. He put me in contact with a coach, and from there I met (SIU tennis coach) Dann Nelson.”

The coach’s recommendation to Nelson turned out to be a good one.

Cavero won 15 of 19 singles matches during his freshman year, including a seven-match winning streak. His play was strong enough to finish at No. 2 entering the MVC Championships.

Nelson said he was shocked at his freshman’s progression.

“We started him off at No. 4, and he just kept winning, winning, winning,” he said. “We eventually moved him up to No. 3, and then our No. 2 had an injury so we moved him up there and he still kept on winning.”

This fall, he defeated the nation’s No. 77 player in Oklahoma State’s sophomore Maniel Bains during the first round of the ITA Regional Tournament.

After the tournament and season, Cavero said he spent winter break back home. He said his career was put into jeopardy, when he was asked to move some bags for a family vacation.

“I was with my grandparents at home, and I was taking down their luggage from upstairs,” he said. “I was taking the luggage in my right hand and I don’t know why I put it in front of my right leg, but it got stuck while I was going down the stairs. I didn’t have time to grab onto anything, and just broke it.”

The “it” referred to Cavero’s both ulna and radius bones in his left wrist. He said his doctors originally said he could play through the injury with some rehab, but it became clear to him that the injury was worse than anticipated.

“I went back home for the summer and played and did horrible,” he said. “The weird thing was that it was a sharp pain before and after the impact of me hitting the ball. Time went on and nothing got better. I had some X-rays again, and that’s when I knew the surgery was necessary.”

He had the surgery in Peru during summer 2012, and he returned with a near four-inch scar on his left forearm. The next couple of months required rehab on his wrist all over again, but senior captain Brandon Florez said that was when Cavero’s game vastly improved.

“What he lost in natural movement on the court he’s made up for in his serves and his volleys,” Florez said. “He improved the points of his game that needed improvement, and what made him so dominant (his freshman year) is coming back better and better every match.”

Cavero finished this year’s regular season 10-4 in singles, which earned him fourth in the MVC for players in the No. 2 spot. He and doubles partner sophomore Szymon Opieczonek have won 10 of their 15 doubles matches finished this year.

Nelson said he is glad to see his No. 2 play well again.

“We lost him for almost a calendar year,” Nelson said. “Just to have him back in the lineup and playing is great. For him to be back and playing as well as he has been is a good testament to his work ethic and how much he wants it.”

Cavero will look to continue his post-season success Friday against Creighton University. Florez said his teammate observes the game on a higher level than most players.

“I feel Jorge is constantly thinking, planning three shots ahead and as he (was playing) with the injury he knew he had to play smarter,” Florez said. “Now that he is healthy, it has improved his game even more. He is going to be a great tennis player, and one of the smartest that I have ever encountered.”

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