IVCC tennis newcomer doesn't let knee injury keep her down
When the season began, Julia Browning was a big question mark for the Illinois Valley Community College's women's tennis team.
She's hoping to turn that into an exclamation point next year.
Browning was a top player at St. Bede’s Academy and was expected to do the same for IVCC until a knee injury took her out of commission.
“Eight months ago, I was playing basketball and tore my ACL completely,” Browning told the Illinois Valley Times. “It had to be stabilized, and I wasn’t able to bend my knee for four weeks. I went to therapy for six months, and after another month I was released to play.”
For months afterward, Browning would just go on the court and lightly hit the ball. Slowly, she began adding movement into the mix and working her way toward playing a full match.
After several months of physical therapy, she was able to start practicing a little. A few months later, she was cleared to resume full activity, but Browning said she had lingering doubt in her abilities on the court.
“I was very nervous I wouldn’t be able to play again, and when I started playing, I was scared of re-tearing it,” Browning said. “I kept looking forward and working hard toward my goal. I kept pushing myself till I couldn’t do any more. Overcoming the fear of my knee getting hurt again was hard. It is always in the back of my mind, but once I start playing, I get more comfortable and remember I can do this.”
IVCC head coach Julie Milota paired Browning with Hannah Warwick as a doubles team to help Browning get back into the swing of things. Warwick is IVCC’s No. 1 singles player.and was named an All-American last season.
Browning and Warwick performed well and earned an appearance at the NJCAA tournament in late October.
“I think the season was a great one for me,” Browning said. “I had to relearn a lot of things about playing, and I had to relearn myself, too. Getting to nationals was a big success for me this year. I think it was a successful season for me.”
During the regular season, IVCC’ won two matches, over Sauk Valley and Elgin College. At the national tournament, IVCC finished in sixth place as a team.
Browning said this year taught her a lot about herself and gave her an added confidence boost because she now knows she is capable of overcoming difficult odds. Next season, she hopes to continue improving. She said the more she plays, the more confident she gains in her abilities.