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Senior Saluki fights through tennis injuries

By Tyler Davis

A fast-paced sport like tennis is strenuous on the legs and knees, and one women’s tennis player has persevered despite serious injuries to her lower body.

Korey Love, a senior from Daytona Beach, Fla. studying radio/television, has been on the team for four years. She enjoyed a successful high school career, winning the Florida High School 4A State Singles Championship in 2009. She began her collegiate career playing both singles and doubles, but lately has been confined to doubles.

Love said she was diagnosed with Patella Tracking Pain Syndrome (PTFS), also known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Since her freshman year, doctors have urged her to just play doubles.

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“When I was diagnosed with (PTPS), they just told me that I should kind of focus on doubles because singles was too much for my knees, and freshman year it really started to kick in,” Love said.

PTPS is a disorder in the patella, or kneecap, according to the University of Illinois’ McKinley Health Center. When the “tracking,” or alignment, of the patella is skewed, the knee can become swollen causing pain around the knee. The disorder is responsible for 25 percent of all knee related injuries and becomes a chronic problem in most cases.

McKinley’s website reports those who suffer from PTPS can feel the effects of the disorder even after 20 years of treatment. Love said the pain has been getting worse as of late and her treatment involves shots, a lot of ice and wraps on the knees.

“The pain’s too much to deal with on a daily basis that I had to resort to cortisone shots,” Love said. “No time for surgery now.”

The surgery Love was referring to is a procedure that can “clean up” and adjust the tracking on the patella to make the knee less painful.

Love said although the pain is getting worse, she continues to push through and has had a prosperous season. Playing with three different doubles partners, Love has still managed a winning record.

Coach Audra Anderson said the injuries have hindered Love’s ability to play singles, however, Love still remains a valuable asset to the team.

“(PTPS) is a chronic injury and whenever you have a chronic injury it can flare up,” Anderson said. “Sometimes it will get better, sometimes it feels worse but she’s still a fantastic doubles player.”

Anderson said the sporadic nature of the injury has been a challenge for her to coach around because she does not know Love’s degree of pain on a given day. She said the injury is inconvenient for Love because she is passionate about the game.

“It comes and goes so it’s very frustrating,” Anderson said. “Mostly for her because she wants to play, but also for me not knowing if we’re going to have her or not because she’s a great singles player.”

Anderson said while not being able to have Love in the lineup for singles has been frustrating, Love’s leadership as a captain more than makes up for her absence in singles.

“She’s a fantastic leader, she takes initiative and she really fits into her role now that she’s a senior,” Anderson said. “She’s a fighter. You can never count her out of a match.”

Anita Lee, a fellow senior captain, has been Love’s teammate since the two athletes came to Carbondale in 2010. They are leaders on the team and have become close friends and roommates through the years.

Lee said she has enjoyed coming up through the program and learning with Love.

“We’ve grown together and learned a lot from each other,” she said. “She’s a great doubles player so she’s a huge asset to our team, and she’s dependable too.”

Lee said PTPS has tested Love’s reliability but she still remains one of the team’s better doubles players and most consistent competitors.

“I think she’s playing really well,” She said. “She’s been injured for the past couple of seasons but I think she’s been doing really well, and pushing herself so that she can help the team out.

As Love’s career as a Saluki tennis player hits the home stretch, she said she enjoyed her time in Carbondale. She has captured two Missouri Valley Conference titles in doubles; one her sophomore year and one senior year.

As conference play approaches, Love said she expects nothing less out of the team.

“I think this season I can win the MVC title at number two doubles, and the all team title as long as we go undefeated in the Valley,” she said. “I think we can do that.”

Love said though her tennis career may be over, she still intends to stay in Carbondale as she has recently been accepted into the media management graduate program at SIU.

Love and the Salukis next match is against the University of Illinois in Champaign Friday.

Tyler Davis can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @Tdavis_DE or at 536-3311 ext. 269

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