Storm Sanders reckons she’s had just about every part of her body scanned over her injury-riddled tennis career. But things are looking up for Sanders after a successful return to singles in recent weeks.
And the 25-year-old West Australian has told emageogroup.com she can’t wait for the summer of tennis.
It’s been a six-year journey to get here for Sanders, who first started to experience serious injury issues after going full-time on tour in 2013.
“I’d won my first title in singles and got to about 210 in the world and that’s when I started having issues with my back and then my hamstrings,” Sanders said.
“From there until 2018 it was literally just stop-start, stop-start. I never actually even played a full season on tour, so it was very frustrating and kind of hard to get answer about why things were happening. Sometimes they were just like: ‘Literally, we don’t know why your back is playing up’. I had this injury with my ankle, but I never rolled it or anything – just kind of random stuff like this was happening for quite a while. So I started focusing a bit more on doubles at the end of 2017.
“In 2018, I started getting really bad shoulder pain just before Aussie Open so I kind of got through that and made it through to a mixed doubles quarterfinal and then I decided I needed to take a break for my shoulder. They thought that a good two weeks off and rehab would help it and it ended up turning into a year. I just had pain every day for about six months doing day-to-day stuff and we couldn’t really work out why the MRIs were showing that there was nothing structurally wrong.
“During that time, I also found out I had this auto immune disease called Ankylosing spondylitis. I started getting treatment for that and that kind of helped my shoulder and my back. It kind of explained why I was having the inflammatory issues that no one could explain and finally it all made sense.
“I honestly think I’ve had almost every body part scanned. It’s kind of good, in a way, knowing it’s not just one injury that’s been lingering for a few years. Things have healed and I’ve been feeling good so even if something does get a little bit sore, I know it can get better. I’ve just got to do the right rehab and take rests. I think as I’ve gotten older as well, I’ve become more professional with listening to my body”
Sanders, who recently joined Emageo Group, surprised herself with how well she returned to the singles court last month.
The left-hander won just her second tournament back at the City of Playford International.
“I played my first singles tournament in about two years a month ago,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to go. I just wanted to go out and test it and see how the body would hold up. I won my first $60,000 title, which was pretty crazy, I wasn’t expecting that at all. I was just enjoying it, having so much fun being out there. I’m really happy that my body held up well and I felt good playing singles again.”
Now Sanders is zeroing in on her favourite time of year – the Australian summer of tennis.
Sanders will compete in the next month’s Australian Open Wildcard Play-off in a bid for a singles berth in the grand slam main draw.
An accomplished doubles player who boasts a career-high ranking of 63, Sanders will also continue on the doubles court.
“I’m just really excited to play the summer,” she said. “I missed out on the summer this year. It’s awesome playing the Australian Open. I don’t really have anything set for next year, just keep enjoying singles and try to win as many matches as possible and just be the best player I can – give myself the best chance week-in, week-out to be consistent. That’s probably the most important thing.
“I’m just sitting outside of the top 100 right now for doubles and I would really love to play the slams this year so I need to be ranked about 80 to get in. That would be also a good goal to try and get into French Open doubles, maybe singles qualifying as well.
“I need to find a balance between playing singles and doubles, which depends on how I’m going and how many matches I’m playing.”