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DeVine's Back

Jake DeVine was playing the best tennis of his life when he first felt a twinge in his back in November 2013. That twinge led to a 14-month layoff for the 17-year-old Californian, but now healthy and competing again, he will join the Southern Californian Trojans this fall.

Top senior Jake DeVine has committed to USC
© ZooTennis
DeVine had won the International Spring Championships in Carson and had reached the finals of the 16s in Kalamazoo when something felt off during an International Tennis Federation junior event in Mexico.

"I didn't really think much about it, because in tennis, at least for me, it's pretty common," DeVine said of his initial reaction to the pain. "Something's always a little sore, whether it's your knee or your shoulder, elbow or back. The match progressed and it got to the point where at the changeovers, I couldn't even sit down, because if I sat down, I couldn't get back up."

Loathe to retire, as he had never done so in his junior career, DeVine continued, but he immediately consulted a physician on his return to the United States. After an MRI, he was cleared to continue playing, yet two months later, the pain persisted.

"So I talked to my coaches and parents and said something is really going on here," DeVine said.

"I took the same images and went to another doctor and he sits down in a chair and about ten seconds later says, yeah, you broke your back. It was a bummer, because I was coming off a great year, and I was actually sitting there in my house in December, feeling sorry for myself and my coach texts me, saying Jake, congratulations, you finished the year Number 1 in the country. I basically finished number one in the country sitting in my room."

Facing a three-month layoff and told he might not fully recover, DeVine sought additional medical advice. Mimi Johnson, a physician in Seattle who was recommended by a family friend, offered an alternative, but the cost be steep: six to eight months without tennis.

"That was really hard for me to hear, because all I could think about was being back for Clay Courts and being back for Kalamazoo, or if not Kalamazoo, the US Open," said DeVine, who lives in Los Altos, California.

But once he accepted the necessity of that hiatus in the interest of healing completely, DeVine began his rehabilitation.

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Page updated on Monday, November 04, 2019
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