Reese Thompson is back, wrist and all.
Some pain accompanied the Southold High School sophomore’s first competitive tennis match in a year, but the way she played and the result she attained must have helped lessen it.
Thompson’s 2017 season was cut short after only a couple of weeks because of a puzzling injury to her right wrist.
“I actually went to several doctors because no one knew what was going on,” she said, noting she first felt pain on the outer edge of the wrist and then in another spot on the wrist closer to the thumb.
At first, she was told she couldn’t play for four weeks, and after that was continually told her she couldn’t play. It was determined that she had a cyst in the wrist, but because of her young age, an operation was ruled out. Anti-inflammatory medication, which she still takes, was prescribed. She was done for the season.
“It was pretty hard because I really do love playing tennis and I just had to watch someone else take my spot,” she said.
Thompson’s plans to play this past winter were aborted because of the injury, but she returned to Southold/Greenport’s preseason practices this summer, eager to give it a go.
“She’s been solid since she came back after that first week of knocking off the rust,” said coach Mike Carver.
But the real test didn’t come until Southold’s season opener Wednesday.
Thompson, wearing a brace on the wrist, played — and played through pain. She overcame a 3-0 deficit in the second set to defeat Center Moriches senior Madison Hujber in second singles, 6-2, 7-5, in the Suffolk County League VIII opener for both teams at Southold High School.
“Reese was definitely the story of the day,” Carver said. “I think she stepped up and rose to the occasion.”
Thompson’s victory was part of a 5-2 triumph by the First Settlers.
Afterward, Thompson applied an ice bag to the troublesome wrist. “My first day back, I was very nervous,” she said. “I really didn’t think I could do it, and my wrist started to hurt really bad.”
How did the wrist feel after the match?
“It’s really sore,” she said.
Thompson described it as a paralyzing pain and said this was the most it has bothered her since the start of preseason practice last month. “Sometimes it almost brings me to tears,” she said.
Thompson said when she lost the first three games of the second set, “I was probably ready to give up, but obviously I can’t do that so I just had to keep battling it through.”
Carver was mightily impressed by what he saw from her. “That was the best I’ve seen Reese play,” he said. “She stuck with it. She didn’t let it go to that third set. She’s got a lot of potential. She’s a great athlete. She’s only going to get better and better.”
Southold’s first singles player, freshman Natalie Kopala, also began her season on the right foot, finishing senior Hannah Tebbens, 6-0, 6-1, in 42 minutes. A crosswind caused difficulties for Kopala on her high ball toss, accounting for her 53-percent rate on first serves. But her 19 winners (to five for Tebbens) made up for that.
Kopala, who has a tennis court at her home, showed her shot-making ability, including the best of the day, a cross-court beauty to close out the fifth game of the second set.
Kopala said she’s hitting the ball harder and is being more aggressive. “The more you play, the better you get,” she said.
Southold’s third doubles team of Allie Boyle and Liz Garcia provided the clinching fourth team point. They beat Leigh McMahon and Savannah O’Brien, 6-4, 6-2.
An all-freshmen fourth singles match saw Southold’s Ellie Alloway prevail in the twilight, 6-4, 7-5 over Alyssa Marano.
The only three-setter of the day went Southold’s way. Danielle Henry and Julia Mejsak were 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 winners over Carolyn Estes and Nya Pemberton at second doubles.
Center Moriches’ two points came from third singles and first doubles. Kaylee Walsh upended Kaia Rothman, 6-3, 6-4. The pairing of Emma Brennan and Nicole Weinhofer downed Hannah DeSimone and Casie Vaccariello, 6-0, 6-3.
It was a big day for Thompson and the Settlers, who would love to have her for the entire season.
Thompson said she thinks she’ll be OK with the wrist, if not entirely comfortable. “When I have that brace on, it’s not as bad, like I don’t feel the pain as much, but when I take it off, I really do feel it.”
Photo caption: Southold/Greenport sophomore Reese Thompson played — and won — her first match since being sidelined by a cyst in her right wrist early last season. (Credit: Bob Liepa)